A 2000-year-old synagogue has been found in what is believed to be the hometown of Mary Magdalene. The synagogue is the second to be found in ancient Magdala, after the first was found in 2009 in the town – now called Migdal – off the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.
Dating to the Second Temple period, both synagogues may have been functioning when Jesus visited the town, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew.
“The fact that we found two synagogues indicates that the Jews of the Second Temple period sought a place for religious and perhaps social gatherings. The fact that we found a carved stone depicting the Temple Menorah in the other synagogue highlights the connection between Jerusalem and subordinate communities,” said Dina Avshalom-Gorni, director of the excavation on behalf of the University of Haifa.
“The current synagogue we are excavating is located next to a residential street. The synagogue that was excavated in 2009 was surrounded by an industrial area. So the local synagogues were actually built within the social fabric of the settlement,” she added.
Magdala had been a rebel headquarters for Flavius Josephus, and it is surmised the synagogues were destroyed during the Roman-Jewish conflict that led to the destruction of the Temple.