Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient synagogue that dates back to the time of Christ.

The rare find is a huge 29 feet long and 26 feet wide room with walls lined by limestone benches. Most synagogues that existed at that time were found in urban centres, but this is the first to be found in what was a Jewish village.

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According to the New Testament, Jesus travelled from towns and villages preaching in their synagogues. But until now no rural synagogues have been found from around the time.

The building, which archaeologists have dated to the First Century AD, appears to have formed part of a Jewish village at a hilltop site known as Tel Recheš, near Mount Tabor in lower Galilee, Israel.

Dr Mordechai Aviam, an archaeologist at Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee has been leading excavations, and he believes the synagogue was built between 20 – 40AD.

He said: ‘This is the first 1st century synagogue in rural Galilee of the first century. 

‘This find, reflects the life of 1st century Galilee, which was almost totally rural.

‘The site is 17 km (10 miles) as crow flies east of Nazareth, and 12 km from Nin (Naim), and although we don’t have its name in the New Testament, it is in the area in which Jesus acted.

‘Therefore it will give scholars of the New Testament another view of the life in the villages in which Jesus was active.’

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The discovery comes as a separate group of archaeologists have uncovered rare frescoes from the Roman period in the Zippori national Park in Galilee.

Hundreds of fragments contain floral patterns, images of animals and geometric motifs.

It sheds light on how Zippori was an important urban centre for the Jews during the Roman and Byzantine periods, explained Professor Zeev Weiss, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University.

Source – Daily Mail