Ancient synagogue uncovered in Israel

July 5, 2012 at 8:42 PM
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HUQOQ, Israel, July 5 (UPI) -- Archaeologists working in Israel have announced the discovery of a large synagogue building dating to the late Roman period of the fourth or fifth century B.C.

Archaeological excavations at the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq in Israel's Galilee have revealed a preserved mosaic floor depicting the biblical judge-warrior Samson tying fiery torches between the tails of foxes as described in the book of Judges 15, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported.

In another section of the mosaic, two female faces border a circular medallion with a Hebrew inscription praising those who perform Torah commandments, the researchers said.

"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," said Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina, who is conducting the excavations with David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

"Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes," she said. "This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue's walls, suggests a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly."

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