Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions Found in Peqi’in

The ancient stone found in Peqi’in, which archeologists believe is 1,800 years old. (Ritvo, courtesy of Beit Zinati)

An ancient limestone capital thought to be 1,800 years old (dating to the Roman period), engraved with two Hebrew inscriptions, was discovered during the course of restoration and conservation work being carried out in the ancient synagogue at Peqi’in, in the western Galil.

The stone was found upside down in the building’s courtyard. Upon discovery of the inscriptions, archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority arrived at the site to examine the special find. A preliminary analysis of the engraving suggests that these are dedicatory inscriptions honoring donors to the synagogue.

In the past year, rehabilitation and conservation work was carried out in Peqi’in’s ancient synagogue and nearby Beit Zinati in order to upgrade the visitor center located there. The visitor center will tell the 2,000-year-long history of the Jews in the village, and the unique story of the Zinati family — the village’s oldest Jewish family. Until today, Margalit Zinati, the last member of the family to “keep the flame alive,” resides in the house next door to the synagogue.

Ze’ev Elkin, the Minister of Yerushalayim Affairs and Heritage, said: “Peqi’in is one of the most significant sites in the Galil, and is a place where there has always been a Jewish presence. It is a great honor for me that during my tenure in office such an important discovery has been made that tells this 2,000-year-old story of the Land of Israel.”

The work is being conducted by the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel as part of a heritage project by the Ministry of Yerushalayim Affairs and Heritage.