Large statue of a lioness found in a pile of debris

A large basalt statue of a lioness was found at the site of the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, Kinneret, North Israel. The discovery was made by two researchers touring the area.

Basalt statue of a lioness (by Mordechai Aviam)

The researchers, Mark Turnag and Eli Shukron, noticed an unusual stone being moved by a tractor from a dirt pile. They contacted the director of the excavations at the area, Mordechai Aviam, and examined the find. It turned out to be a block of basalt with a carved statue of a lioness. The block is said to weight nearly 600 kilogrammes. The statue preserved in its entirety and depicts the lioness with the short mane, big fangs, tongue sticking out and carved tail along the hind legs. The researchers believe the statue might have been originally placed at the entrance to a Jewish synagogue that operated at the site or at the entrance to another significant structure of the Roman city. The age of the statue is estimated at more than 2000 years. After examination the basalt statue was lifted by a crane, loaded onto the truck and transported to safety. According to the archaeologists,  very similar statues of lions and lionesses have been previously discovered in synagogues in the Golan Heights. This similarity might indicate that it was too a remnant of a Jewish synagogue or was a part of another significant structure in the city.

Crane lifting the statue (by Mordechai Aviam)

(after Mordechai Aviam & Jewish Press)

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