I am pleased to inaugurate BAR’s “News from the Field” department with the first English publication of a most unusual find. It was recently discovered in the ancient city of Chorazim which overlooks the Sea of Galilee. The find is an almost unique pilaster whose function I will dare to suggest at the end of this note.
Chorazim lies about two miles northeast of Capernaum. The town is first mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 11:20–24, Luke 10:12–16); in these passages, the town’s inhabitants, along with those of Capernaum and Beth Saida, are scorned for their sins.
From its archaeological remains, we know that Chorazim flourished as a Jewish town during the period of the Talmud (third-sixth centuries A.D.). In the center of the ancient town stood a synagogue, now in ruins. Many architectural elements—capitals, friezes and other carved pieces of stone—which clearly belong to the synagogue but whose exact provenance is unknown, lie scattered about. The synagogue was first discovered in the early years of this century by Heinrich Kohl and Carl Watzinger,a in their well-known survey of ancient synagogues of the Galilee. Excavations in the town were carried out in the 1930s by the Hebrew University and the mandatory government’s Department of Antiquities.