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Rachel Hachlili

[Beth She’arim]

Jewish necropolis near the town of Beth Shearim in the lower Galilee. In the early 3rd century ad the site became a noted centre of learning under the great scholar Rabbi Judah ha-Nassi (c. 135–217). His burial there made the site holy ground, and it became the chief burial place for Jews from the land of Israel and neighbouring regions. It was destroyed in ad 352. The necropolis consisted of catacombs, most of them of the 3rd and 4th centuries; they had courtyards in front and portals, with stone doors made to resemble wooden doors with nails. Each catacomb contained numerous tombs; some had several burial halls spaced out along corridors that were cut into the rock of the hillside. The tombs were mainly loculi [compartmented graves] or arcosolia [vaulted niches]. The dead were laid in arcosolia, coffins or decorated stone, marble or terracotta sarcophagi. On the walls were carved, painted or incised decorations; like those of the sarcophagi, they were in a popular style that combined Hellenistic and Oriental elements. Characteristic of the style are scenes from pagan mythology and Jewish motifs, such as the menorah, the Ark of the Scrolls and various ritual objects. Some of the catacombs belonged to one family, others were public. Burial at Beth Shearim was a commercialized public enterprise directed by a burial society, which may have sold burial places....

Article

Rachel Hachlili

[Capharnaum, Kafarnaum; now Kefar Nahum]

Town located on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), Israel. Mentioned in the New Testament as a place visited by Jesus, it is traditionally held to have been the home of St Peter. Two synagogues have been identified in Capernaum, the second built on the remains of the first, as well as an octagonal area thought to be the site of a church of St Peter, built where his house was believed to have stood. The town was destroyed in the 7th century ad.

The earlier synagogue, dated to the 1st century ad, has been tentatively identified with the synagogue at Capernaum, the building of which is mentioned in Luke 7:5. Excavators have found a basalt cobbled pavement and several basalt walls, which run under the south wall and the east and west stylobates of the main hall of the later limestone synagogue. Benches along the walls are assumed, but no entrance has been found. The dating of the limestone synagogue is in dispute. In ...

Article

Malcolm A. R. Colledge, Joseph Gutmann and Andrew R. Seager

[now Qal‛at as Sāliḩīyah.]

Site of a Hellenistic and Roman walled city in eastern Syria, on a plateau between two gorges on the west bank of the middle Euphrates. The name combines elements that are Semitic (Dura) and Macedonian Greek (Europos). Dura Europos was founded by the Seleucids in the late 4th century bc at the intersection of east–west caravan routes and the trade route along the Euphrates. It was later a frontier fortress of the Parthian empire and after its capture in ad 165 fulfilled the same role for the Roman empire. After the Sasanian siege in ad 256–7 the city was abandoned. The results of excavations by French and American archaeologists in the 1920s and 1930s threw light on the process of synthesis between Classical and indigenous populations and cultures in Syria-Palestine during Hellenistic and Imperial Roman times. The excavated remains include a synagogue (see §3) with an important cycle of biblical paintings and an Early Christian meeting-house (...