(Photo: Jim Haberman)

(Photo: Jim Haberman)

By Amanda Borschel-Dan - November 19, 2018

A dazzling array of mosaics depicting biblical and historical scenes has been unearthed at a Late Roman-era synagogue in the Galilee’s ancient Huqoq village since 2012. With intricate attention to detail, each frame — until now kept under wraps — is worth thousands of words.

In conjunction with the publication in BASOR of a 70-page interim report of the excavations from 2014–2017, lead archaeologist Dr. Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is permitting the rare release of never-before-seen full images of the startling scenes uncovered there.

The scenes vary from well-known religious stories such as Jonah and the Whale, Noah’s Ark, and Pharaoh’s soldiers being swept away by the Red Sea and swallowed up by dozens of fish, to the pagan zodiac at the floor’s center, as well as a portrayal of what may be the first purely historical non-biblical scene in a synagogue — complete with armored elephants.

In a phone conversation with The Times of Israel this week from the American Schools of Oriental Research annual conference in Denver, Magness said she is personally partial to the Jonah panel for its innate humor. In it, the prophet dangles out of the mouth of a Russian doll-like combination of three consequently swallowed fish as mythological harpies look on.

Read More: Times of Israel