Ruins unearthed near Sea of Galilee might be a medieval synagogue

Ruins of a Medieval building uncovered at the village of Huqoq, near the Sea of Galilee in Israel, might have been used as a synagogue. The Medieval structure was constructed between 12th-13th centuries atop a 5th century synagogue.

Overview of the building (by Jim Haberman)

The monumental Medieval public building was built on the same spot as the former Roman synagogue. It reused some of the earlier structure’s architectural elements, but its size was larger. The fifth-century Roman synagogue contains mosaics, including one depicting the story of Noah’s Ark.

Aerial view of the structure (by Paschal Partouche)

According to the researchers, Medieval builders reused the north and east walls of the ancient synagogue, as well as ancient columns and pedestals of the columns, placing them on top of low walls called stylobates. The floors of the Medieval building were also decorated with mosaics showing images of flowers and geometric and and floral designs.

Mosaics (by Jim Haberman)

Researchers do not know with certainty what the Medieval building was used for. Some of them believe it likely served as a church, a mosque or a synagogue. One clue suggests that the building is a synagogue – benches lining the east, north and west walls. According to the researchers such benches are commonly seen in synagogues.  However there isn’t any historical information about a Jewish population in the area at the time, although a 14th-century text describes a building located in Huqoq (known then as Yakuk) a a synagogue with a very old floor. So far the only certain thing is that the structure was a public building, likely of religious importance.

(after CBS News, Live Science, Daily Mail Online, Paschal Partouche & Jim Haberman)

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