Monday, September 20, 2010

Samaritan synagogue excavated in Bet She'an

AN ANCIENT SAMARITAN SYNAGOGUE has been excavated in Bet She'an (Bet Shean, Beit Shean):
Archaeologists in Israel Find a 1,500 Year Old Samaritan Synagogue

JERUSALEM.- The remains of a synagogue and farmstead that operated in the Late Byzantine period, which were unknown until now, were exposed in an archaeological excavation conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, prior to enlarging a residential quarter south of Bet Sheʽan, c. one half kilometer west of the Jordan Valley highway (Route 90).


The building that was exposed consisted of a rectangular hall (5 x 8 meters), the front of which faces southwest, toward Mount Gerizim, which is sacred to Samaritans. Five rectangular recesses were built in the walls of the prayer hall in which wooden benches were probably installed. The floor of the hall was a colorful mosaic, decorated with a geometric pattern. In the center of the mosaic is a Greek inscription, of which a section of its last line was revealed:
meaning “This is the temple”.