2000-year-old synagogue discovered in Israel

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GALILEE, Israel — Archaeologists say that they have uncovered a 2,000-year-old synagogue in Israel.

The discovery was made during excavation at a site that was slated for a new hotel north of Tiberias along the Sea of Galilee in Migdal. Migdal was where Mary Magdalene had once lived.

Archaeologists Dina Avshalom-Gorni and Arfan Najar of the Israel Antiquities Authority directed the excavations at the site.  In the middle of the synagogue archaeologists found a stone, which was engraved with a seven-branched menorah (candelabrum).

"We are dealing with an exciting and unique find," said excavation director and Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dina Avshalom-Gorni in a press release.

The menorah engraving is the first of its kind to be discovered from the beginning of the Early Roman period — also known as the Second Temple period — according Avshalom-Gorni who said the site joins just six synagogue locations that are know to date from the same time.

According to Avshalom-Gorni, the main hall of the synagogue is 120 square meters with stone benches built up against the walls of the hall. The floor was made of mosaic and its walls were treated with colored plaster (frescos).

Despite plans to build the hotel, MK Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture and Sport, is certain that the site will constitute an attraction for tourists from abroad and from Israel. [It] will shed light on life in the Jewish settlement during the Second Temple period," said Livnat.

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