Jewish archaeology is a way of studying the Jewish past through objects that were found in the ground and can be read within the context of Jewish history, literature and art. Prof. Steven Fine, Yeshiva University, Produced by Down Low Pictures for COJS
Talmud and Daily Life
Since the nineteenth century, scholars of ancient Judaism have interpreted Jewish ossuaries in terms of the resurrection/redemption trope. Most prominently, they have associated ossuary burial with the Pharisaic and early Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead. Briefly, the practice of ossuary burial, as it developed in Jerusalem and its environs in Herodian Jerusalem involved […]
The Greek inscription below the menorah, a Jewish version of Psalm 136:25 (Psalm 135 in the Septuagint), was published in Berlin in 1943, with minor mention of the lampstand. The place and date of publication may or may not be relevant; epigraphers often disregard the artifacts upon which their inscriptions appear. More important, though, is […]
Sacred Realm: The Emergence of the Synagogue in the Ancient World, 1996, “Ancient Synagogue Bema,” built from spolia and facsimilies of artifacts from various synagogues in Israel. Foreground: the Meroth synagogue mosaic. Left: model of the Beth Alpha synagogue.
We see in this design of the Dura Temple of Dagon the garments that the High Priest wore, the utensils and objects that were used in the Temple to offer sacrifices and the other people who served in the Temple.
Here is a picture of a ceiling of the synagogue of Chodorow, Ukraine. It has subsequently been destroyed. You see diagrams and verses for each of the 12 tribes you would expect to see in a synagogue.
In 1922, Nahum Slouschz, the first “Hebrew archaeologist,” associated the fine limestone menorah that he had recently discovered at Hammath Tiberias with supposed priestly behavior in that synagogue. Slouschz writes: “I could not doubt that we had found here a Menorah made faithfully on the plan of the Menorah of the Holy Temple. This model […]
Beth Alpha Synagogue Mosaic Pavement: The Beth Alpha synagogue was discovered in 1929. The immediate response of scholars to the discovery of the Na’aran and Beth Alpha mosaics was to interpret them in light of Jewish literary sources and to compare these images with Jewish art of later periods, where the image of the zodiac is extremely […]
The popularity of the zodiac suggests that it was borrowed from the general context, but that its popularity in synagogues was related to the deep engagement of the Jews of late antiquity with the heavens, especially as given expression in a wide variety of ways in the Palestinian Jewish literature of that era.
Here is the Zodiac panel, by Hammath Tiberias. One dark night in late May 2012, the Hammath Tiberias synagogue mosaic was vandalized by a group of irate ultra-Orthodox Jews. The 1,600 year old mosaics suffered irreparable damage.