More Biblically Themed Mosaics Uncovered at an Ancient Synagogue

July 11, 2016 | A.R. Williams

In 2012, archaeologists excavating the ancient Jewish city of Huqoq, near the Sea of Galilee, discovered remnants of a Roman-era synagogue with elaborate mosaics depicting biblical scenes, and perhaps one talmudic legend as well. More recent excavations have revealed more such artwork. A.R. Williams writes:

Archaeologists . . . have uncovered two new panels of a mosaic floor with instantly identifiable subjects: Noah’s ark and the parting of the Red Sea during the Israelite exodus from Egypt.

Such images from this period are extremely rare. “I know of only two other scenes of the parting of the Red Sea in ancient synagogues,” [the excavation’s director, Jodi] Magness, explains. “One is in the wall paintings at Dura Europos [in Syria], which is a complete scene but different from ours—no fish devouring the Egyptian soldiers. The other is at Wadi Hamam [in Israel], but that’s very fragmentary and poorly preserved.”

The ark scenes are equally uncommon. Again, Magness knows of just two: one at the site of Jerash (known as Gerasa in antiquity) in Jordan, and the other at the site of Misis (the ancient Mopsuestia) in Turkey.

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