A 2,000-year-old synagogue was discovered in the ancient Jewish settlement of Migdal in Galilee, the second synagogue from the Second Temple Period uncovered in the town, also known as Magdala. The location is prominently featured both in the Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus’ writings and as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene in the Gospels.
“The discovery of a second synagogue in this Galilean settlement casts light on the social and religious lives of the Jews in the area in this period, and reflects a need for a dedicated building for Torah reading and study and for social gatherings,” said Dina Avshalom-Gorni, one of the directors of the excavations. “We can imagine Mary Magdalene and her family coming to the synagogue here, along with other residents of Migdal, to participate in religious and communal events.”
According to the Gospels, Mary Magdalene – also known as Mary from Magdala – was one of the women who traveled with Jesus and witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection.
The first synagogue was uncovered in Migdal in 2009 when an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed Jewish ritual baths (mikvaot), streets, a marketplace, and industrial facilities. A unique artifact stood in the middle of the synagogue’s main hall: a large stone portraying the Second Temple of Jerusalem, with a carved seven-branched menorah on one of its sides. It represented a crucial discovery because the depiction was engraved in the stone when the temple was still standing.
The newly discovered synagogue was shaped as a square and built with basalt and limestone. It featured a main hall and two other rooms. The main hall was coated in white plaster and featured a stone bench along the walls, also coated in plaster. One of the smaller rooms presented a stone shelf. According to the experts it might have been used to store Torah scrolls.
The excavation was initiated as a salvage excavation before construction works at the Migdal intersection. According to Israeli law, all development projects need to be accompanied by such an excavation.
Originally posted at vfinews.com