March 28, 2013 Leave a comment
Uncovers well preserved Synagogue from the time of Jesus:
July 2, 2012 Leave a comment
Monumental synagogue building discovered in excavations in Galilee:
A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (ca. 4th-5th centuries C.E.) has been discovered in archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee.
The excavations are being conducted by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, under the sponsorship of UNC, Brigham Young University in Utah, Trinity University in Texas, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Toronto in Canada. Students and staff from UNC and the consortium schools are participating in the dig.
Huqoq is an ancient Jewish village located approximately two to three miles west of Capernaum and Migdal (Magdala). Thissecond season of excavations has revealed portions of a stunning mosaic floor decorating the interior of the synagogue building. The mosaic, which is made of tiny colored stone cubes of the highest quality, includes a scene depicting Samson placing torches between the tails of foxes (as related in the book of Judges 15). In another part of the mosaic, two human (apparently female) faces flank a circular medallion with a Hebrew inscription that refersto rewards for those who performgood deeds.
“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),” said Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the department of religious studies in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. “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.”
Excavations are scheduled to continue in summer 2013.
June 28, 2012 1 Comment
Leeches have invaded Lake Kinneret’s [the Sea of Galilee’s] shores – for the second time in seven years.
Standing in the water for as little as two minutes will cause your legs to be covered in hundreds of leeches. These particular types are not blood-suckers, making them relatively easy to remove once one is out of the water.
They are found on the lakebed, at depths of 0.5 to one meter, at two spots over the last few days: near the Sapir visitors center and along the western coastline. They live off snails and other invertebrates.
The leeches first overran the shores of the lake seven years ago.
Four types of leeches are known to live in the Kinneret, but they are usually present only in small numbers. This year, however, huge quantities have been detected.
The rest of the story suggests some explanations, including human activity and the rapidly changing water level.
November 30, 2011 Leave a comment
As Bible Places reports:
Several years ago some private individuals developed the “Jesus Trail” for travelers who wished to walk from Nazareth to Capernaum. We described this effort at some length last year. Yesterday the government Israel dedicated the “Gospel Trail,” a route that travels the same ground as the “Jesus Trail” and apparently competes with it. The Jerusalem Post reports on the story:
Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov inaugurated on Tuesday the new Gospel Trail pilgrimage route which has been created by the Ministry of Tourism along with the Jewish National Fund.
The trail, which cost NIS 3 million to develop over three years, is designed to further increase the already large numbers of Christian tourists and pilgrims who visit Israel each year.
The route of the Gospel Trail follows the path which Jesus walked at age 30 after he was evicted from Nazareth, as related by the New Testament.
The trail, which runs for 63 kilometers, starts at Mount Precipice just outside Nazareth and continues eastwards down to Capernaum, taking in a number of important Christian holy sites.
These include the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount; Magdala (Migdal today) the home of Mary Magadelene; Tabgha, the site of the Feeding of the Five Thousand; and Capernaum, where Jesus established his ministry and met his first disciple Peter.
Those traveling the trail will be able to do so by car, bicycle and, more traditionally, on foot – despite the current lack of amenities and accommodation along the route. The ministry says it is working on a program to encourage entrepreneurs to develop tourist facilities to provide services for those walking the trail.
The story includes a 3.5 minute video which features interviews with Christian pilgrims pleased with the announcement.
A search for Gospel Trail takes one to www.gospeltrail.com, a site owned by Jesus Trail™.
The Israel Ministry of Tourism website includes a description of the Gospel Trail route and the infrastructure created by the $700,000 investment. The site also includes links to a 12-page booklet (which includes the map posted below), a stage-by-stage guide, and a high-resolution satellite map with the trail marked.
Map of the Gospel Trail from the Israel Ministry of Tourism booklet
July 12, 2011 Leave a comment
An ancient rock inscription of the word “Shabbat” was uncovered near Lake Kinneret this week – the first and only discovery of a stone Shabbat boundary in Hebrew.
The etching in the Lower Galilee community of Timrat appears to date from the Roman or Byzantine period.
News of the inscription, discovered by chance Sunday by a visitor strolling the community grounds, quickly reached Mordechai Aviam, head of the Institute for Galilean Archeology at Kinneret College.
“This is the first time we’ve found a Shabbat boundary inscription in Hebrew,” he said. “The letters are so clear that there is no doubt that the word is ‘Shabbat.’”
Aviam said Jews living in the area in the Roman or Byzantine era (1st-7th centuries CE) likely used the stone to denote bounds within which Jews could travel on Shabbat. The Lower Galilee of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages had a Jewish majority – many of the Talmudic sages bore toponyms indicative of Galilee communities.The engraving uncovered in Timrat is the first and only Shabbat boundary marker yet discovered in Hebrew – a similar inscription was found in the vicinity of the ancient Western Galilee village of Usha, but its text was written in Greek.
Aviam and his colleagues plan to enlist local help in scouring neighboring areas to locate additional inscriptions, and eventually to publish their findings in an academic journal…
There’s more here.
June 22, 2011 Leave a comment
The article is in the latest edition of Biblical Archaeology Review:
It seems like almost everywhere archaeologists dig in the eastern Galilee these days, they are coming up with ancient synagogues.In 2007, a third–fourth-century C.E. synagogue with beautifully decorated mosaic floors depicting Biblical episodes was discovered at the site of Khirbet Wadi Hamam outside Tiberias; just last summer, European archaeologists digging only 4 miles away, at Horvat Kur, announced that they, too, had found a synagogue, probably dating at least a century later.Perhaps the most exciting recent synagogue discovery in Israel was in Magdala, reputedly the home of Mary Magdalene. (Was this the synagogue she regularly attended?) On the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the newly discovered Magdala synagogue, excavated by archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), is one of only seven uncovered in Israel that was in use during the first century C.E., when the Jerusalem Temple still stood. The others include Masada, Herodium and Gamla, with which BAR readers are familiar. Other possible examples have been excavated at Herodian Jericho, Qiryat Sefer and Modi’in.During the first century C.E., Magdala was a significant fishing village with a major port on the Sea of Galilee, as revealed in recent Italian excavations led by Stefano De Luca (under the general direction of the late Michele Piccirillo). Today the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee is much lower than in ancient times and the new excavations have revealed boat portals or hookups that today are far from the shore.The Magdala synagogue from this time is richly decorated with frescoes of colored panels. Mosaics with geometric designs covered the floor. Impressive columns supported the roof. And a strange, nearly 3-foot-long stone block found in the center of the synagogue is elaborately carved on the side and the flat top. Among other reliefs, it features one of the earliest depictions of a seven-branched menorah…
There is more here.
March 22, 2011 Leave a comment
There is one common misconception. When people stand on the Tell and look out over the Beteiha Plain toward the lake, their immediate response is, “You mean the water level was higher then?” The answer must be a clear and unequivocal, “No.” Silt filled in the northern portion of the lake. It is not a case of receding water levels…
Read further at The Bible and Interpretation here.
February 3, 2011 Leave a comment
Police officers stumbled on a large stash of jugs and coins dating back from the Second Temple era in the Galilee village of Mazara on Thursday, during an arms raid.
The archeological finds were kept in a yard belonging to family suspected by police of keeping arms.
“We’re looking to see how it got to this yard,” a Galilee police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post.
After finding the artifacts, a representative of the Israel Antiquities Authority was called out to the scene, and he dated the findings to the Second Temple period, the spokesman added.
The artifacts have been transferred to the Nahariya police station.
A father and his two sons were arrested from Mazara following the uncovering of the artifacts, Israel Radio reported. The police have said that they believe the coins and archeological pieces were collected from various historical sites around the country.