Israel shows off its new finds

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(eTN) – Israel’s Ministry of Tourism unveiled four archeological finds in a release called “What We Dug Up This Month.”

1,500-YEAR-OLD SAMARITAN SYNAGOGUE EXPOSED NEAR BEIT SHE’AN
A 1,500-year-old Samaritan Synagogue was uncovered last month during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority southwest of Beit She’an. Among the discovered items in the synagogue include a 16.5-by-20-foot rectangular hall which faces southward toward Mount Gerizim, a Samaritan holy site, as well as a colorful mosaic decorated with a geometric pattern. The center of the mosaic contains a Greek inscription that reads “this is the temple,” providing archeologists with evidence that the synagogue had played an important part in the lives of the farmers who inhabited the surrounding region, serving as a center of spiritual, religious and social life.

ROYAL BOX UNCOVERED AT KING HEROD’S THEATER AT HERODION
A royal box built at the upper level of King Herod’s private theater was discovered during recent excavations at Herodion National Park at the eastern edge of Gush Etzion. The 26-by-23-foot royal box is the central space among a group of rooms attached to the upper part of the theater’s structure, with its back and side walls adorned with an elaborate scheme of wall paintings and plaster moldings never before seen in Israel. The box also includes a series of unique windows painted with various naturalistic landscapes, including scenes of the countryside, Nile River and a nautical picture featuring a large boat with sails in the Second Pompeian style familiar in Italy from 15 to 10 B.C.E. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem will hold the first exhibition featuring the finds of Herod’s grave later this year.

1,200-YEAR-OLD TIME CAPSULE DISCOVERED IN LOWER GALILEE
A group of archeologists have discovered a 1,200-year-old time capsule containing fossilized remains of aurochs, the wild ancestors of today’s domesticated cattle, in the Hilazon Tachtit Cave in the Lower Galilee region last month. The 28 fossils discovered in the cave, in addition to the areas used for feasts, provide evidence that the site was used to commemorate the burial of the dead.

ANCIENT STONE BEARING IMAGE OF CUPID UNEARTHED NEAR THE CITY OF DAVID, JERUSALEM
A 2,000-year-old stone bearing the image of Cupid was presented to the public for the first time at the 11th annual City of David Archeology Conference in Jerusalem last month. The semi-precious cameo, measuring one-centimeter in length, features an image of Cupid engraved in blue, with Cupid’s left hand resting on an upside- down torch and his feathers hinted at by a number of grooves. The stone is believed to have once been part of a piece of jewelry, and was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Givati parking lot excavation site which is part of the Jerusalem Walls National Park.