BAR 37:04, Jul/Aug 2011
Samaritan Synagogue Faces Mt. Gerizim
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