Samaritan Synagogue Faces Mt. Gerizim

Sidebar to: New Synagogue Excavations In Israel and Beyond

In our November/December 2010 issue, BAR readers learned of the decades-long archaeological saga to identify the ancient Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim in northern Israel, the religious center of the obscure and little-known Samaritan faith that split from Judaism more than 2,000 years ago.a Now, about 25 miles away, in the fertile valley of Beth-Shean, even more evidence of this ancient offshoot of Judaism is coming to light.

Last summer, archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered the remains of a Samaritan synagogue just outside of modern Beth-Shean. The synagogue dates to the fifth and sixth centuries C.E., when a significant community of Samaritans lived in the Beth-Shean Valley. In fact, this is the third Samaritan synagogue to have been discovered in the area.b

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