Biblical Archaeology Review 33:6, November/December 2007

Golan Gem

The ancient synagogue of Deir Aziz

Of the approximately one hundred ancient synagogues from, say, 150 B.C.E. to 850 C.E. found in the ancient Land of Israel, an astounding 25 percent are located in the central Golan. How do we explain this?

As it happens, one of the earliest synagogues is also in the Golan: the famous synagogue in Gamla, a Jewish town destroyed in 67 C.E. by the Romans at the beginning of the First Jewish Revolt. Gamla was never rebuilt.a

Two other pre-Revolt synagogues known for a long time have been found in the series of palace/fortresses Herod the Great built on his eastern frontier in the Judean desert—at Masada and Herodium.b More recently, a number of other pre-Revolt synagogues have been excavated in Judea—at Qiryat Sefer and Modi’in, and perhaps also at Jerichoc and Horvat 'Ethri.1

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