Excavations at Ancient Galilean Synagogue Expose Samson Mosaic

Bible and archaeology news

December 2012 update: The Samson mosaic was published for the first time ever in Huqoq excavation director Jodi Magness’s article “Samson in the Synagogue” in the January/February 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. Read more about the Samson mosaic here in Bible History Daily here, or read Magness’s full article in the BAS Library here.
 


 

Recently discovered mosaics at the Late Roman Galilean synagogue at Huqoq include Hebrew texts (see accompanying photo) as well as narrative scenes, including a depiction of Samson from Judges. Photograph by Jim Haberman, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Monday that recent excavations at Huqoq, Israel, have exposed a monumental 4th-5th century C.E. synagogue with detailed mosaic floors. The excavations, directed by UNC Chapel Hill’s Jodi Magness along with the IAA’s David Amit and Shua Kisilvitz, show evidence of a prosperous Jewish community in the northern Galilee region, just west of Capernaum and Migdal. The mosaics stand out among their contemporaries for their high quality and narrativity. One features a scene from Judges 15 in which Samson places torches between the legs of foxes, and another includes faces and a Hebrew inscription.

Jodi Magness gave a statement in the IAA press release. “This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another site just a couple of miles from Huqoq). Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes. This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue’s walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly.”

Read the press release on the IAA site.

Interested in early synagogues? In the July/August 2012 Biblical Archaeology Review, Mark R. Fairchild explores what may be the world’s earliest known synagogue.

BAS Library members can read the full article here, and anyone can read about it for free in the Bible History Daily post “The Lost Sites of Ancient Cilicia.”
 


 

Exclusively for BAS library members: Read articles by Huqoq excavator Jodi Magness as they appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review

Not a library member yet? Sign up here.

Atkinson, Kenneth, Eshel, Hanan, Magness, Jodi. “Another View: Do Josephus’s Writings Support the “Essene Hypothesis”?.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Mar/Apr 2009, 56, 58-59.

Magness, Jodi. “Archaeological Views: Why Pottery Matters.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 2007, 28.

Magness, Jodi. “What Did Jesus’ Tomb Look Like?.Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan/Feb 2006, 38-49, 70.

Eshel, Hanan, Magness, Jodi, Shenhav, Eli. “Surprises at Yattir: Unexpected Evidence of Early Christianity.Biblical Archaeology Review, Jul/Aug 2001, 32-36, 59.

Magness, Jodi. “Illuminating Byzantine Jerusalem.Biblical Archaeology Review, Mar/Apr 1998, 40-43, 46-47, 70-71.

Magness, Jodi. “What Was Qumran?: Not a Country Villa.Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 1996, 38, 40-47, 72-73.

Magness, Jodi. “Masada: Arms and the Man.” Biblical Archaeology Review, Jul/Aug 1992, 58-67.

Not a library member yet? Sign up here.
 


 
December 2012 update: The Samson mosaic was published for the first time ever in Huqoq excavation director Jodi Magness’s article “Samson in the Synagogue” in the January/February 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. Read more about the Samson mosaic here in Bible History Daily here, or read Magness’s full article in the BAS Library here.

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  1. Ανασκαφές σε αρχαία συναγωγή της Γαλιλαίας έφεραν στο φως ψηφιδωτό με τη μορφή του Σαμσών | ΘΕΟΛΟΓΙΚΑ ΔΡΩΜΕΝΑ linked to this post on July 5, 2012

    [...] Excavations at Ancient Galilean Synagogue Expose Samson Mosaic – Bible History Daily. [...]

  2. Excavations at Ancient Galilean Synagogue Expose Samson Mosaic « 1 Word – Bible Theology, Apologetics and Christian Blogs linked to this post on July 8, 2012

    [...] Israel, have exposed a monumental 4th-5th century C.E. synagogue with detailed mosaic floors. Read More Tags : ancient, announced, antiquities, authority, century, detailed, excavations, expose, [...]


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