Biblical Archaeology Review 29:3, May/June 2003


Modi’in Excavations Yield Synagogue, Tombs

Archaeologists excavating south of the modern city of Modi’in, 13 miles northwest of Jerusalem, may have discovered the first-century B.C.E. Hasmonean city of the same name—where the family of Judah Maccabee is buried, according to the Book of Maccabees (in the apocrypha).

In five excavation seasons over the past three years, Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologists Alexander Onn, Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah and Yehudah Rapuano have uncovered the ruins of a synagogue, a mikveh (ritual bath), monumental graves, two main roads, a system of alleyways criss-crossing the site in a grid pattern and an olive press. The synagogue is an impressive structure with two rows of four columns on each side of a central hall containing benches along its walls—a feature also found in synagogues at Masada, Herodium and Gamla. Signs of fire, together with datable pottery and coins, suggest that the synagogue was destroyed in the early second century C.E. by the Romans.

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