The Schmooze

Mystery Mosaic Discovered in Ancient Galilee Synagogue

Photo Credit: Jim Haberman

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brigham Young University, Trinity University (Texas), University of Toronto, and University of Wyoming believe that they have uncovered the first ancient synagogue mosaic to feature a non-biblical narrative.

In 2012, the team, led by Jodi Magness, Kenan distinguished professor for teaching excellence in early Judaism at Chapel Hill, excavated a mosaic at the 5th-century synagogue at Huqoq, in Israel’s Lower Galilee, which represented Samson tying torches to foxes’ tails, per [Judges 15:4.][2] Last year, the scholars found a second mosaic, which depicted Samson shouldering Gaza’s gate (per Judges 16:3).

The third mosaic, which the researchers uncovered in 2013 and continued to unearth through this summer, has an entirely different iconographic program. The mosaic, which is split into three registers along the synagogue’s east aisle, shows spears piercing a bloody bull, and what a UNC press release describes as “a dying or dead soldier holding a shield.”

[2]: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges 15:4

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Mystery Mosaic Discovered in Ancient Galilee Synagogue

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