(Chapel Hill, N.C.— July 6, 2017) – A team of specialists and students led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Jodi Magness has uncovered additional mosaic scenes in the Late Roman synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel’s Lower Galilee. The new finds provide insight about daily life in the fifth century C.E. and expand the rich repertoire of mosaics already discovered decorating the floors of the building.On the newly found mosaics:
A medallion in the center of the uppermost (northern) panel depicts the Greco-Roman sun god Helios in a quadriga (four-horse chariot) surrounded by personifications of the months and the signs of the zodiac, contained within a square frame with personifications of the four seasons in the corners.There is a photo showing one of the workmen in the third panel. This photo appears with another in this tweet.
The second panel shows the biblical story of Jonah and the whale with a twist: Jonah’s legs are shown dangling from the mouth of a large fish, which is being swallowed by a larger fish, and the larger fish is being swallowed by an even larger fish. This is the first time the story of Jonah has been discovered decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue in Israel.
The third (southernmost) panel contains a detailed scene of men at work constructing a stone tower, apparently the Tower of Babel.
“The Huqoq mosaics are unusually rich and diverse,” said Magness. “In addition, they display variations on biblical stories which must represent oral traditions (midrashim) that circulated among the local Jewish population.”
For previous PaleoJudaica posts on the finds at the Huqoq excavation — especially the mosaics, start here and follow the many links.
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