Ancient Synagogue at Capernaum

Synagogue ruins of this building, among the Oldest synagogues in the world were identified by Charles William Wilson. The large, ornately carved, white building stones of the synagogue stood out prominently among the smaller, plain blocks of local black basalt used for the towns other buildings, almost all residential. The synagogue was built almost entirely of white blocks of calcareous stone brought from distant quarries. The building consists of four parts: the praying hall, the western patio, a southern balustrade and a small room at the northwest of the building. The praying hall measured 24.40 ms by 18.65 m, with the southern face looking toward Jerusalem. The internal walls were covered with painted plaster and superbly well-done stucco work found during the excavations. Watzinger, like Orfali, believed that there had been an upper floor reserved for women, with access by means of an external staircase located in the small room. But this opinion was not substantiated by the later excavations of the site. The synagogue appears to have been built around the fourth or fifth century AD. Beneath the foundation of this synagogue lies another foundation made of basalt, and Loffreda suggests that this is the foundation of a synagogue from the first century AD, perhaps the one mentioned in the Gospels (Loffreda, 1974). This, too, has been open for debate. Later excavation work was attempted underneath the synagogue floor, but while Loffreda claimed to have found a paved surface, others are of the opinion that this was an open, paved market area. [1] The ancient synagogue still has two inscriptions, one in Greek and the other in Aramaic, that remember the benefactors that helped in the construction of the building. There are also carvings of five- and six-pointed stars and of palm trees. In 1926, the Franciscan Orfali began the restoration of the synagogue. After his death, this work was continued by Virgilio Corbo beginning in 1976. [Wikipedia]

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