Date:

Archaeologists discover ancient synagogue in the Black Sea region

A team of archaeologists from the Phanagoria archaeological expedition have found one of the world’s oldest synagogues at the ancient Greek city of Phagoria, located on Russia’s Taman Peninsula.

According to ancient sources, Phanagoria was founded in 543 BC by Teian colonists who fled Asia Minor in consequence of their conflict with the Persian king Cyrus the Great. The city served as a bustling hub for trade and travel, connecting the coastal areas of the Maeotian marshes with the regions located to the south of the Caucasus mountains.

- Advertisement -

With the support of the Oleg Deripaska Volnoe Delo Foundation, archaeologists have found traces of the synagogue’s foundations and walls, in addition to marble menorahs, liturgy tables, and marble stele fragments.

The synagogue dates from the Second Temple Period (597 BC to AD 70) and stood for approximately 500 years on the shores of the Black Sea, until Phanagoria was sacked and destroyed by the invading Huns. By the 7th century, the city recovered from a turbulent period of invasion, and served as the capital of Old Great Bulgaria and became a Byzantine dependency.

Image Credit : Oleg Deripaska Volnoe Delo Foundation

One of the stele fragments dates from the 5th century AD and has the inscription “synagogue” written in Hebrew, while other fragments have inscriptions stating “house of prayer” and “synagogue”, which date from around AD 16 to 51.

The synagogue is a rectangular structure, measuring 21 metres by 6 metres, and with two chambers each exceeding 60 square metres. Based on the architectural finds, the interior would have contained marble columns, walls decorated with paintings and tiles, and ornamental marble menorahs.

- Advertisement -
Image Credit : Oleg Deripaska Volnoe Delo Foundation

According to the researchers: “The presence of a robust Jewish community within the city already in the 1st century AD is corroborated by depictions of menorahs on amphorae and tombstones from that era. Historical records from the medieval period also affirm the notion that Jews constituted a significant portion of the city’s inhabitants. Notably, Theophanes, an 8th-century Byzantine chronicler, and Ibn-Hordadbeha, a 9th-century Arabian geographer, both referred to Phanagoria as a “Jewish city”. Contemporary historians believe that the Jewish community of Phanagoria mirrored the city’s cosmopolitan character.”

Oleg Deripaska Volnoe Delo Foundation

Header Image Credit : Oleg Deripaska Volnoe Delo Foundation

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 8,000 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Lost crusader altar discovered in holiest site of Christendom

Archaeologists from the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), working in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), have discovered a lost crusader altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Viking arrowhead found frozen in ice

Archaeologists from the “Secrets of the Ice” project have discovered a Viking Era arrowhead during a survey of an ice site in the Jotunheimen Mountains.

Underwater archaeologists find 112 glassware objects off Bulgaria’s coast

A team of underwater archaeologists from the Regional Historical Museum Burgas have recovered 112 glass objects from Chengene Skele Bay, near Burgas, Bulgaria.

Bronze Age axe found off Norway’s east coast

Archaeologists from the Norwegian Maritime Museum have discovered a Bronze Age axe off the coast of Arendal in the Skagerrak strait.

Traces of Bahrain’s lost Christian community found in Samahij

Archaeologists from the University of Exeter, in collaboration with the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, have discovered the first physical evidence of a long-lost Christian community in Samahij, Bahrain.

Archaeologists uncover preserved wooden elements from Neolithic settlement

Archaeologists have discovered wooden architectural elements at the La Draga Neolithic settlement.

Pyramid of the Moon marked astronomical orientation axis of Teōtīhuacān

Teōtīhuacān, loosely translated as "birthplace of the gods," is an ancient Mesoamerican city situated in the Teotihuacan Valley, Mexico.

Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered in Malmesbury

Archaeologists have discovered an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the grounds of the Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury, England.