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Zodiac mosaic floor, synagogue in Hamat Tiberias

The Hammat Tiberias Synagogue is an ancient synagogue on the outskirts of Tiberias, Israel, located near the hot springs just south of the city. The synagogue dates to 286 and 337 CE, when Tiberias was the seat of the Sanhedrin. Two synagogue sites have been excavated at Hammat Tiberias. The first, uncovered in 1921 by Nachum Slouschz, working under the sponsorship of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society, was a watershed event in the history of Israeli archaeology as the first archaeological dig conducted under Jewish auspices. A limestone menorah uncovered there is now on display at the Israel Museum. The mosaic floor is made up of three panels featuring the zodiac and Helios the sun god. Women symbolizing the four seasons appear in each corner.

The second synagogue site, excavated by Moshe Dothan, is noted for its elaborate mosaic floor. The synagogue, dated to the last half of the fourth century C.E., was named after an inscription that reads, in Greek, “Severus the pupil of the most illustrious patriarchs,” an apparent reference to the leaders of the Jewish community.

In the center of one large mosaic is the Sun god, Helios, sitting in his chariot holding the celestial sphere and a whip. Nine of the 12 signs of the zodiac survived intact. Another panel shows a Torah ark flanked by two the seven-branched menorahs and other Jewish ritual objects.

 

(www.en.wikipedia.org)

 

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