Second Beis Mikdash-Era Shul Unearthed in Russia

(Photos: Volnodlo Pangoria Foundation)

Archaeological reports released on Tuesday reveal the unearthing of remnants from a shul dating back to the Second Beis Mikdash period in the ancient city of Phanagoria, located in present-day Southwestern Russia between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

This significant find signifies the identification of one of the planet’s earliest shuls. Analysis of fragments found at the site indicates that the shul likely stood for more than five centuries, having been constructed around the onset of the first century BCE.

The shul, constructed in a rectangular shape measuring approximately 70 feet in length and 20 feet in width, was divided into two rooms. It boasted adorned walls, a tiled roof, and other intricate embellishments. Among the discoveries were various menoros, and marble stele fragments.

Moreover, a set of tablets found at the location were accurately dated to the first century.

The research team highlighted the rarity of shuls being built or operational during the era when this shul was constructed. Notably, in the first-century context of Roman-occupied Judea, the ancient Phanagoria stood hundreds of miles away, highlighting its distinctiveness.

Notably, the majority of the earliest known shuls discovered so far have origins in the third century, significantly later than the Phanagoria shul. It appears that the shul met its demise in the sixth century when marauding barbarian groups laid waste to Phanagoria.

Meanwhile, in Krasnodar, the thriving Jewish community warmly received news of this remarkable revelation, knowing that they are continuing a tradition that is thousands of years old, and despite the difficult times that Russia has gone through, the community is flourishing with thousands of Jewish families.

A delegation from the community, led by the Rabbi of the city, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lazar, is expected to visit the site in the coming days, at the invitation of the archaeological authority, which is interested in cooperation in order to get to the bottom of the discoveries of this interesting piece of history, that was found throughout Russia.

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