Ancient Hebrew inscriptions found in Galilee synagogue


The entrance to the ancient synagogue at Peqiʽin, Israel. Credit: Ritvo, courtesy of Beit Zinati.

( Two ancient Hebrew inscriptions dating back some 1,800 years to the Roman period were found on the capital of a limestone column during restoration work being carried out in an ancient synagogue in the Western Galilee town of Peqiʽin in Israel.

According to archaeologists, the stone was found upside down in the synagogue’s courtyard. A preliminary analysis of the inscriptions appear to indicate they were dedicatory inscriptions honoring donors to the synagogue, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said.

"The Talmudic and Midrashic sources tell of the Galilean sages that lived in Peqiʽin, including Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who hid from the Romans in a cave," IAA inspector in the Western Galilee Yoav Lerer said. "However, there are those who disagree with the identification of the location of Peqiʽin. I believe that these inscriptions will add an important tier to our knowledge about the Jewish settlement in the village of Peqiʽin during the Roman and Byzantine periods."

Restoration work has been underway for the past year in Peqiʽin’s ancient synagogue and nearby Beit Zinati in order to upgrade the visitor center there, which will tell the stories of the Jewish presence in the town over the last 2,000 years as well as the Zinati family, the town’s oldest Jewish family. Margalit Zinati, the last member of the Zinati family, still resides in a house next door to the synagogue.

Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ze'ev Elkin said that Peqiʽin “is one of the most significant sites in the Galilee 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,” he added.                                                                                                                                                      

Posted on February 21, 2017 .