Ancient synagogue discovered at Horvat Kur

A group of researchers and students from the University of Helsinki Faculty of Theology participated in a project that unearthed an ancient synagogue in Israel.

Horvat Kur

The excavations of an international research group at Israel’s Horvat Kur in June and July culminated in the discovery of a subterranean wall. It turned out to be the western wall of a synagogue dating back to the 5th century CE. On the western side of the wall there is a cobblestone pavement, possibly the courtyard of the building. In addition, fragments of pilasters, among other things, were discovered in a nearby excavation.

Excavations were also carried out on a hill close by, where remnants of two courtyards and a room full of discarded pottery were discovered. This summer’s projects were the first systematic excavations in the village of Horvat Kur. The aim is to extend the excavation both around the synagogue and domestic quarters.

Horvat Kur is located in a region which was central to early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Dr Raimo Hakola, who headed the University of Helsinki team at the excavation, is expecting the discoveries to shed light on life in ancient Galilee.

- I hope that the archaeological findings will help us form as comprehensive a picture as possible of an ancient village community. That way it would be possible to gain further insight into the economic standing of Galilean villages, the possible population growth in the rural areas as well as the interaction between the culture of Galilee and that of late antiquity, Hakola says.

The Kinneret Regional Project, which runs the excavations, is a co-operation network operating under the auspices of the Universities of Bern (Switzerland), Helsinki (Finland), Leiden (The Netherlands) and Mainz (Germany). Excavations at Horvat Kur are led by Professor Jürgen Zangenberg from the Leiden University.

The Horvat Kur excavations are the topic of a public lecture at the congress of IOSOT (International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament) on Monday 2 August at 6pm, room: Porthania I (Yliopistonkatu 3). The IOSOT congress will bring scholars from over 30 countries to Helsinki.

Kinneret Regional Project » »

The 20th Congress of IOSOT 2010 » »

Text: Tiina Palomäki
Photos: Raimo Hakonen and Skyview
Translation: AAC Global

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