Backgrounders on the Bible through Biblical Archaeology

Posts tagged “mosaics

1536-1537 Jodi Magness – Huqoq Synagogue Mosaics 2016

jodiJodi Magness, a prolific archaeologist, author, and Book & The Spade guest (on a half dozen times already) has turned up some of the most beautiful mosaics ever found in Israel. Every summer for the past four years there have been stories about the mosaics, and so we figured it was time to talk with her and get an update.

The critical issue she’s investigating is the dating of early synagogues, and so far what she’s found backs her premise that many of these synagogues were built several centuries later than scholars thought, during the Byzantine era, which means Judaism was still thriving when Christians were in charge.


1503 Clyde Billington – Galilee Mosaics and Nero’s House

HORVAT KUR 2015-KRP-Mosaic-200

Menorah depicted in the Horvat Kur mosaic.

Continuing coverage of archaeology news reported in the latest issue of ARTIFAX magazine. We wrap up our review by discussing the excavation of an unusual mosaic in a Byzantine synagogue overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and the ongoing discovery and protection of the house built in Rome by the emperor Nero.

1493 Clyde Billington – Galilee Mosaics 2015

Huqoq mosaic detail

Huqoq mosaic detail

2015 appears to have been a fairly productive excavation year in Israel, particularly in the Galilee, where two different excavations reported major mosaic developments.

In the excavations at Huqoq, overlooking the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, archaeologist Jodi Magness (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill) continues to excavate a fifth century synagogue with stunning beautiful mosaics. Additional work was done this summer on a mosaic which appears to illustrate the tradition that describes a meeting between Alexander the Great and the Jewish high priest in Jerusalem.

At the same we report on the University of Hartford excavation of the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which uncovered a more plain (crosses, for instance) mosaic dating about a century earlier. The mosaics are about six feet below the current floor level, and plans call for a glass window installation so visitors can see the mosaics.

Additional news reported in this program, with my ARTIFAX co-editor Clyde Billington, a first century miqva discovery in the Ein Kerem area of Jerusalem (traditional home of the parents of John the Baptist) and tensions over the new carpet installation at the Dome of the Rock.

1444 Clyde Billington – Huqoq Mosaics and Bethsaida Site Survey

Huqoq mosaic detail

Huqoq mosaic detail

Continuing our review of recent discoveries in Biblical archaeology as reported in the summer issue of ARTIFAX magazine we discuss with professor Clyde Billington the discovery of curious mosaics at a Byzantine synagogue at Huqoq, and a shovel survey of what some archaeologists believe may be the real site of the biblical Bethsaida.

The first two seasons of excavations at Huqoq (near the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee) revealed mosaics depicting episodes in the life of Samson. But in this past summer’s third season the mosaics uncovered seemed to veer from the biblical account. One may even depict Alexander the Great.

What is usually called New Testament Bethsaida, the site of et-Tell, is a mile and a half from the NE shore of the Sea of Galilee. Thinking that et-Tell may be too far from the shore to be Bethsaida, some archaeologists are taking another look at Khirbet el-Araj, which is nearer the shore.

#1391 Todd Bolen – Samson & the Sphinx

2013 Samson mosaic found at Huqoq.

2013 Samson mosaic found at Huqoq.

This program includes the third and final segment of a series of conversations with Todd Bolen of on the most exciting discoveries of this summer’s archaeological excavations in Israel. We cover the discovery of another synagogue floor mosaic depicting Samson at Huqoq, near the Sea of Galilee. We also discuss the discovery of a fragment of a 4500-year old Sphinx at Hazor, the first sphinx ever found outside of Egypt.

203 & 204 Carol Meyers – Sepphoris and the Mona Lisa of the Galilee

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

In this 1989 interview, Duke University archaeologist Carol Meyers discusses the early years of the excavations at Sepphoris, an important first century Galilee city that overshadowed the nearby village of Nazareth. The discussion includes the discovery of one of the most beautiful ancient mosaics ever seen, the portrait of a woman that has become known as the Mona Lisa of the Galilee.