The panel on which the biblical spies (Jim Haberman)
Researchers have discovered a stunning mosaic of a biblical scene on the site of an ancient synagogue in Northern Israel.
The mosaic, which is the last to be discovered on the fifth-century synagogue in Huqoq, shows a scene from Numbers 13:23. With the label “a stick between the two,” the panel shows two spies sent by Moses to explore the biblical land of Canaan. The spies are shown with a stick with a cluster of grapes, which they took to Moses as a proof of Canaan’s abundance.
Another recently discovered panel, which refers to Isaiah 11:6, the words “a little child shall lead them,” and shows a youth in a lead of an animal on a rope.
THE ANCIENT SYNAGOGUE MOSAIC DEPICTS BLOODY JEWISH LEGEND
The first mosaics at the site were discovered in 2012. Experts say that the wealth of the mosaics show that Jewish life in the village flourished during the Christian dominion in the fifth century A. D. This challenges a widely held view that the Jewish settlement in the area has decreased in that period.
“The selection of these scenes to decorate the synagogue highlights the Judaism in late antiquity – a period in which Christianity spread and Jewish communities in the Roman Empire lived under Christian rule,” Excavation Director and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Professor Jodi Magness told Fox News, via e-mail.
Magness noted that the floor of the synagogue is paved with mosaic panels, most of which depict biblical stories. “Almost all of the biblical stories have found so far have no parallels in other ancient synagogue -this is also true of the panels discovered this summer,” she said.
RARE MOSAIC OF THE ARK OF NOAH DISCOVERED IN THE OLD SYNAGOGUE
Previous mosaic discovered in Huqoq are images of Samson, Noah’s Ark and Jonah being swallowed by three consecutive fish.
There is also a discussion about whether a mosaic discovered in 2016 portrays Alexander the Great.
The latest dig, which is the eighth on the site, more exposed, the remains of 1,600-year-old columns covered with colorful, painted plaster. “This is important, because painted plaster to decorate walls or columns in old buildings was not uncommon in the ancient times, but is seldom preserved,” says Magness. “Only a few of the other ancient synagogues in Israel have yielded the remains of painted plaster on the scale of our. This helps us to understand how richly decorated, the building was not only the floors, the walls and columns.”
RARE DISCOVERY: ANCIENT SYNAGOGUE MOSAIC CAN DEPICT ALEXANDER THE GREAT
To conserve the mosaics, they are removed from the site and the excavated area is “backfilled” with the soil to protect the remains of the old synagogue to the following summer digging.
“We stay there for at least four years until we have the end of the excavation of the synagogue, and then the excavations will end and the publication,” Magness told Fox News.
The Huqoq Excavation Project consists of experts from a range of universities, including Baylor University, Brigham Young University, and the University of Toronto. Magness has worked with elven shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Tel Aviv University on the excavations in the summer.
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There are a number of fascinating discoveries in the region in recent years. Archaeologists, for example, recently unearthed an extremely rare old clay amulet with a blessing in Arabic.
Earlier this year, experts announced the discovery of a site that can offer a new insight into the ancient biblical kingdom of David and Solomon. In another project, a treasure of bronze coins, the last remnants of an ancient Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, were recently discovered near the temple mount in Jerusalem.
In February, archaeologists announced the discovery of a clay seal mark, that may bear the signature of the biblical Prophet Isaiah.
MYSTERIOUS POOL AND A FOUNTAIN DISCOVERED AT THE ANCIENT CHRISTIAN SITE IN ISRAEL
Last November, there are new facts dated Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Tomb from the Roman period, matching historical records.
Other finds include the skeleton of a pregnant woman, dating back 3200 years, in Israel’s Timna Valley, a place once known as “King Solomon’s Mines.
On the site of an ancient city on the West Bank, archaeologists are also hunting for evidence of the tabernacle, which once housed the Ark of the Covenant.
Some experts also believe they have the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus’ apostles, Peter, Andrew and Philip.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers