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Excavations in the ancient synagogue of Horvat KurIn Israel, dating from the Byzantine period (IV-VII century AD), they have discovered a partially intact mosaic of color on the floor.
The mosaic consists of a panel showing the upper part of a menorah, and with an inscription that mentions the name of El’azar, as well as the names of his father and grandfather.
The inscriptions are the names of El’azar, his father Yudan and his grandfather Susu or Qoso. These men may have been influential members of the local Horvar Kur Jewish community during the Byzantine period. El’azar and his ancestors may have helped pay for the construction of the synagogue and the mosaic of the floor.
The menorah, a seven-branched candle holder, was one of the most important religious symbols in ancient Judaism. Inscriptions mentioning people making donations to public buildings were characteristic of ancient public buildings, including Jewish synagogues, Christian churches, and pagan temples, but the mixture of names in the inscription like that of Horvart Kur had never been seen.
The menorah was very common during ancient Jewish times and during the Byzantine period it became a very popular symbol in Jewish synagogues and could be a symbol that this synagogue was more important than others for the Jewish community. The Horvat Kur mosaic confirms this theory and adds some new details.
After the summer excavations are complete, the mosaic will be moved from the site and transferred to the laboratories of the Israel Museum for conservation and restoration.
Horvat Kur is located on top of a hill a few kilometers from the northwestern coast of the Sea of Galilee, next to ancient Jewish cities such as Magdala and Capernaun. It is also close to a former important Christian pilgrimage site like Tabgha. The mosaic adds a greater cultural value to the region.
Preliminary analyzes of the findings at Horvat Kur indicate that Christian monasteries and Jewish cities had very strong economic connections. The findings further show that rural eastern Galilee was receiving imports from regions as far away as North Africa, the Black Sea, and southern and western Turkey.
Since 2007, excavations at Horvat Kur are under the direction of the ‘Kinneret Regional Project’, a group formed by an agreement between the University of Bern, the University of Helsinki, the University of Leiden and Wofford College.