Ancient Mosaic Floor in Galilee Synagogue Uncovered

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A synagogue dating to the late Roman period (4th-5th centuries BC) is being uncovered in the Galilee a few miles west of Capernaum and Migdal. The excavation is in its second year.

Brigham Young University in Utah, Trinity University in Texas, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Toronto are joint sponsors of the excavation, led by University of North Carolina Prof. Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina and Israel Antiquities archaeologists David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz.

University students and staff are taking part in the synagogue's excavation located in the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq.

This year's team is unearthing an exquisite mosaic floor made up of tiny colored floor tiles depicting biblical themes.

One scene shows Samson putting torches on foxes tails (see Judges 15), while another part of the floor shows two women's faces around a medallion with an inscription in Hebrew about good deeds reaping rewards.

"This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes and only two others have scenes with Samson," Magness said.

"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," she said.

According to the IAA's press release, the dig will continue next summer.

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