A Samson Mosaic from Huqoq

An inside look at discovering ancient synagogues with Jodi Magness

Archaeologist Jodi Magness has a theory about the dating of certain ancient synagogues. Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, believes that the traditional dates for so-called “Galilean-type” ancient synagogues needs to be pushed back a couple hundred years to the fourth–sixth centuries C.E. Until 2011, however, she had to rely on others’ records of the excavation of ancient synagogues. She then decided that she needed to do her own synagogue excavation to get some clear answers. The Huqoq excavation was born.Huqoq was a prosperous village in antiquity and was occupied for much of history until it was abandoned in 1948 during Israel’s War for Independence. Located near the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, just 3 miles west of Magdala and Capernaum, Huqoq is mentioned twice in the Hebrew Bible, as well as in Rabbinic literature.

A Samson Mosaic from Huqoq


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