Archaeological dig in Galilee uncovers mosaics of Samson and commemorative inscriptions


July 12, 2023


A team of specialists and students led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor Jodi Magness has uncovered a spectacular mosaic panel in the late Roman (ca. 400 C.E.) synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel's Lower Galilee. The panel, which identifies the mosaic donors or artists, decorates the floor just inside the main entrance.

Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor of religious studies in Carolina's College of Arts and Sciences, along with Assistant Director Dennis Mizzi of the University of Malta, focused this 11th and final season of the Huqoq excavations on the south end of the synagogue's main hall, or nave.

The newly discovered mosaic consists of a large panel, in the center of which is an enigmatic Hebrew inscription framed within a wreath. To the sides and below the wreath, an Aramaic inscription lists the names either of the donors who provided funding for the synagogue's mosaics or the artists who made them, asking that they be remembered for good. The wreath is flanked on either side by lions resting their forepaws on bulls' heads. The entire panel is surrounded by a decorated border showing animals of prey pursuing other animals.

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