Biblical Mosaics Discovered in Ancient Synagogue in Israel

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Baylor University / Baylor University

Excavations at a Late Roman synagogue in Israel have revealed a series of beautifully rendered mosaics. Live Science reports that a group of archaeologists and university students have been working to excavate the 5th-century synagogue from the ancient village of Huqoq since 2012 and have gradually uncovered a series of floor panels depicting famous biblical scenes.

While earlier excavations revealed depictions of Samson and the foxes and Samson carrying the gates of Gaza, the latest, carried out this summer, revealed mosaics depicting the story of Noah’s Ark and the parting of the Red Sea.

A University of North Carolina press release explains that the Noah’s Ark mosaic depicts the ark and pairs of animals, which include elephants, snakes, bears, ostriches, camels, goats, and more. The parting of the Red Sea mosaic, meanwhile, shows the Pharaoh’s soldiers being swallowed by enormous fish while chariots and horses float by.

The excavations are directed by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina. Students and staff from UNC, Baylor University, Brigham Young University, and the University of Toronto have been helping with the dig.

Magness claims that the biblical mosaics are a truly monumental discovery. “These scenes are very rare in ancient synagogues,” she explains. “This is by far the most extensive series of biblical stories ever found decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue.”

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[h/t Live Science]