Colorful Mosaics Cause Rethink of Ancient Golan

YERUSHALAYIM -

Impressive mosaic tiles from a third-century synagogue in the Golan has changed archaeologists’ minds about the Jewish presence in the region after the churban Bais Hamikdash.

The colorful tiles found in the ancient town of Majdulia are the earliest evidence of synagogue decoration in the Golan, according to a University of Haifa press release on Monday.

Until now, scholars have thought that Jewish settlement was sparse in the north after the fall of Gamla in 67 C.E., but the new finds indicate an active and creative Jewish community there.

The Majdulia artifacts point to the development of a more elaborate architectural style than had previously been the case, according to excavation director Dr. Mechael Osband.

Among the mosaic remnants discovered at the 39-foot by 69-foot structure were animal legs and other portions of intricate designs.

Excavations at Khirbet Majdulia, near today’s settlement of Natur, began in 2014 under Osband, a member of the Department of Land of Israel Studies, Ohalo College, and the University of Haifa’s Zinman Institute of Archaeology. In recent years he has been joined by Hebrew University’s Dr. Benjamin Arubas.