Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Monday, June 16, 2014

Huqoq Day 2, Magdala

Rachel and I got up at 4:00 and rode over the the excavation site with the digging team.  We worked from 4:30 to noon, with a break for breakfast at 8:00 and a bit of fruit and a brief break, "eleven-sies," at 11:00.

Sorry, not pictures. Because Huqoq is an active excavation, it is not permitted to post pictures or describe what we found until Dr. Magness posts her press release at the end of the season.  To give some idea about the significance of this Byzantine-era Jewish synagogue, see this article in Biblical Archaeology Review and this BYU Rel Ed update, which features my colleague Matt and alum Brian Bozung (whom I taught in ClCv 363 while he was an undergrad at BYU).

Still, it was a great experience---though dirty and really hot---to get actually work on a dig first hand.  I had archaeology seminars in grad school but never had any field experience.  And it was good for Rachel to see what it is like, since she is starting her Ancient Near Eastern Studies (ANES) major in the fall. 

7/8/14 Update: When the UNC press release was posted in July, my colleague Matt Grey was able to send me some of the pictures he took of me and Rachel at the dig, which I can now post in our blog.



 




Exhausting, hard work . . . but it was worth the experience!







We came home from the dig hot, tired, and dirty.  After showering, we helped was some of the day's pottery finds and then took a 2-hour nap.









 After that Matt and Brian joined us for a visit to the new Magdala excavations, which have revealed the size and prosperity of the home town of Mary Magdalene.

The synagogue at Magdala is one of the earliest known, dating to the first century.




Rachel, Matt Grey, and Brian Bozung in front of the Magadala synagogue



Miqveh at Magdala


Magdala's port area on the Sea of Galilee






One of the most moving parts of the site is not ancient: it is the Roman Catholic spirituality center, which is envisioned as a focus of modern pilgrimage.




One first enters a large rotunda dedicated to the dignity of women, where the women of Jesus' ministry are honored.









Small chapels off the side focus on the different miracles that Jesus performed in Galilee.





The main sanctuary is dedicated to the 12 apostles.  It features an altar shaped like a Galilean fishing boat, which seems to float on a pool of water seen through the window just behind it and the sea beyond.






Finally, a prayer hall in the basement has been designed to be an almost exact replica of the Magdala synagogue.







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