September 12, 2009

Excavation reveals ancient synagogue

Excavation for a new 122-room hotel in Israel has uncovered the remains of what archaeologists say is one of the world's oldest synagogues.

The site is in Migdal near the Sea of Galilee, in Northern Israel, CNN reported.

Migdal is mentioned in ancient Jewish texts as having a role in the Great Revolt when Jews rebelled against Roman rule. It is also described in early Christian writings as the place where Mary Magdalene accompanied Jesus and the Apostles.

The synagogue dates to between 50 and 100 B.C., experts say.

A stone featuring a seven-branched menorah is the first of its kind discovered in an early Roman dig, said excavation director Dina Avshalom-Gorni of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Avshalom-Gorni said she thinks the engraved menorah was done by someone who visited the main synagogue in Jerusalem, known as the Second Temple, where the actual menorah was believed to have been kept.