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22 November 2018
Mosaics with scenes from the Old Testament found in the north of Israel

American and Israeli archaeologists have discovered in the ruins of a synagogue of the 5th century in northern Israel a mosaic of biblical scenes, including the image of Noah’s ark and Jonah, which is devoured by fish.

The settlement on the site of the village of Hukok, which was located near the Sea of Galilee, in the north of modern Israel, was inhabited even in the Iron Age (in the second millennium BC). Here was a Canaanite village; Hukok is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Joshua (19:34). People constantly lived here under the Persians, in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and later, until 1948, when the Arab village of Yakuk, which was partially located at the site of the ancient settlement, was razed to the ground.
In 2011, an international team of archaeologists led by Jodi Magnes from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Shua Kisilevitz from the Israel Department of Antiquities began excavating here. The mission of the expedition, including, included the location and excavation of the ancient synagogue. In 2012, researchers found the first mosaic that adorned the synagogue, and over time other finds followed. By the suggestion of Megness, the synagogue was built at the beginning of the 5th century, at the end of Roman rule. In the Middle Ages, in the XII-XIII centuries, it was rebuilt and expanded and adapted to a public building. The bases of the columns and the stylobates were raised by about a meter, and the aisles were expanded and laid out with mosaics.
In the 2017-2018 field season, archaeologists discovered mosaics in the synagogue with images of biblical scenes. Among them was the construction of the Tower of Babel, Noah's Ark and the monster swallowing Jonah.
Last year, archaeologists found in Jerusalem a mosaic inscription of the mid-6th century. It mentioned the name of Emperor Justinian and one of the high-ranking Jerusalem priests Constantine, who founded a public building, apparently a hotel for pilgrims.
Catherine Rusakova
November 22, 2018


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