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Additional Mosaics Uncovered at Huqoq Synagogue

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Galilee spies grapesCHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA—A richly decorated fifth-century A.D. synagogue in northern Israel indicates that its Jewish village continued to thrive under Roman Christian rule, according to a Live Science report. Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said the mosaic floors of the Huqoq synagogue are colorful and filled with figured scenes, even though it had been previously thought that Jewish art of the period avoided the use of such images. Previously uncovered sections of the floors illustrate biblical stories such as Noah’s ark, the parting of the Red Sea, the Tower of Babel, and Samson and the foxes. Newly discovered this year is a section depicting a tale from the book of Numbers in which Moses sends 12 spies into the land of Canaan to bring back information on the region’s soil, fruit, and people. Depictions of elephants, cupids, and Alexander the Great are also found in the synagogue’s mosaic floor. Magness thinks the pictures may have served to educate viewers, in addition to laying claim to Jewish heritage. “Some of the prayers and songs that were recited would have related to the scenes that were visible in the mosaics,” she explained. To read about Byzantine mosaics recently discovered in Israel, go to “Gods of the Galilee.”

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