While excavating a new section in the ruins of the central area of a fifth-century C.E. synagogue at Huqoq, Israel, archaeologists exposed a bear’s hind leg and, soon after, a leopard chasing a gazelle. As the team moved to the east, they uncovered pairs of animals marching into a large boat. The scene depicts Noah’s ark (Genesis 6:19–20).
Next the excavators turned to the south and discovered Egyptian soldiers gripping their shields and spears while the fish-filled waters of the Red Sea descend on them, their horses and their chariots—the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 14:26).
Previous mosaic depictions of these scenes lack the detail of those found at Huqoq, according to excavation director Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In past seasons at Huqoq, the eastern aisle of the synagogue yielded mosaics of Samson (Judges 15:4; 16:3), a Hebrew inscription and a meeting of men accompanied by soldiers and war elephants.a