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The Synagogue at Ma'on — New Discoveries / בית-הכנסת במעון — גילויים חדשים

אורה יוגב and O. Yogev
Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies / ארץ-ישראל: מחקרים בידיעת הארץ ועתיקותיה
Vol. יט‎, MICHAEL AVI-YONAH MEMORIAL VOLUME / ספר מיכאל אבי-יונה‎ (1987 / תשמ"ז), pp. 208-215
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23621230
Page Count: 8
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The Synagogue at Ma'on — New Discoveries / בית-הכנסת במעון — גילויים חדשים
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Abstract

In 1980, a rescue excavation was conducted by the author on behalf of the Department of Antiquities and Museums on the western side of the site of the synagogue of Ma'on (Nirim). A wall (W10) was exposed 7.80 m west of the well-known mosaic; it is identical in width and building style to wall W3, ca. 6.20 m east of the mosaic. These two walls run parallel to the long axis of the mosaic, but because they stand at different distances from it, cannot be assumed to be the walls of a roofed building; rather, they were part of a temenos wall surrounding the structure. Also on the western side of the site, beneath the fragmentary pavement uncovered in 1957 (Level I), were two additional fragmentary stone pavements (Levels II and III?), and beneath them, a plastered floor (Level IV). Thus, the reconstructed plan of the Ma'on synagogue as a basilica, as proposed by I. Dunayevsky, can no longer be sustained. The synagogue was probably based on a one-room prayer-hall plan, surrounded by courtyards bordered by a temenos wall. The area of the hall was exactly that of the mosaic (i.e. ca. 10.20 × 5.40 m; an earlier mosaic pavement of the same dimensions was found beneath). Like the church complex discovered several years ago near Kibbutz Magen (4 km south of Ma'on), the brick walls of which were without stone foundations, the synagogue prayer-halls at Ma'on and Gaza, and possibly the church at Shellal, were probably built of brick, which has disintegrated. The synagogue was probably established in the second half of the 5th century CE, and no later than the beginning of the 6th century CE. From the pottery evidence uncovered during the 1980 excavations (see below, pp. 216—224), it is evident that the synagogue was still in use at the beginning of the Umayyad period (ca. 640 CE) and its abandonment was apparently several decades later.

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