Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 32: The Mosaic of Huqoq Revealed

A press release went out yesterday concerning a particular discovery from our site.  A gag order had been placed on anyone who has seen it up until the press release hit the news outlets.  Now that it is out, we are able to discuss and share the importance of this discovery.

I have dug the past two seasons in the ancient village area of our site.  The other area being excavated is an ancient synagogue.  A current debate in the archaeological world is whether these types of synagogues (monumental--large, public, specifically Jewish buildings) date to the third, fourth, fifth, or even sixth century.  One of the two co-directors of the dig, Dr. Jodi Magness argues for the later Byzantine date of the 6th century, while a majority of other archaeologists continue to push for earlier dating.  Whichever side of the debate anyone falls, everyone would agree that what we found at Huqoq this season is stunning.

In this picture taken by our dig photographer, Jim Haberman, we see the face of a woman with an inscription either in Aramaic or Hebrew that says something along the lines of, "Those who do good (follow God's laws), God will do good unto them."  On the opposite side of the inscription would have appeared another face but this has unfortunately been lost to time.

The mosaic stretches on a bit more and depicts a specific seen from Samson's life found in the book of Judges.  These images have not yet been released to the public so I am unsure if I am allowed to post them here yet or not.  Once they are, I will definitely add them.

Debate will surely begin to arise on how we should date this synagogue.  The last day of the site, we were told that we should not rely on the artistic design of the synagogue for a date, but it appears as if either the press release or those writing news articles supplied a possible date nonetheless.  Depending on which article you read, the dates range from the 5th to 6th centuries C.E.  It is far too early to suggest a date.  More information, especially any possible coins or pottery sealed below the mosaic floor, will be needed before any talks of dating may ensue.

Here are a couple of the articles about the discovery:
Times of Israel