The extraordinary has become ordinary—at least as far as excavations at Huqoq are concerned.
For the sixth year in a row, archaeologists working at the site of Huqoq in the Galilee region of Israel have unearthed impressive mosaics that originally covered the floor of a Late Roman synagogue (fifth century C.E.). The most recently discovered panels depict a man building part of the Tower of Babel and Jonah being swallowed by a fish, which is swallowed by a second fish that is then swallowed by a third, still larger fish. In addition to these Biblical scenes, the Roman sun god Helios, zodiac symbols and personifications of the seasons appear on the synagogue floor.
Previous seasons have uncovered Biblical scenes related to Noah’s ark, the Exodus and the life of Samson.a Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Director of the Huqoq Excavation Project, explains, “The mosaics … provide a great deal of information about ancient daily life, such as the construction techniques shown in the Tower of Babel scene uncovered this summer.” The depiction of Helios and the zodiac—supposedly not Jewish—on the floor of a synagogue may seem surprising, but similar illustrations appear in several ancient synagogues.