Archeologists unearth Roman temple in Zippori

Above the temple, foundations of a church built in the Byzantine period were discovered.

archaeology 88 (photo credit:)
archaeology 88
(photo credit: )
Archeologists from the Hebrew University have unearthed ruins of a Roman temple dating back to the second century CE at Zippori National Park in the North. Above the temple, foundations of a church built in the Byzantine period were discovered. The excavations, undertaken by the Noam Shudofsky Zippori Expedition led by Prof. Zeev Weiss of the university's Institute of Archaeology, shed light on the multi-cultural society of ancient Zippori. They indicate that Zippori, the Jewish capital of Galilee during Roman times, had a significant pagan population which established the temple at the heart of the city, and was later also inhabited by Christians. "It shows that pagans who were a minority prayed in the center of the city and lived in harmony with the Jewish majority," Weiss said Monday. The church's location on the foundations of the temple testifies to the preservation of the sacred section of the city over time. The temple, measuring approximately 24 by 12 meters, had a decorated facade. Its walls were plundered in ancient times and only its foundations remain. No evidence has been discovered as to the nature of the rituals performed in the temple, but coins dating from the time of Antoninus Pius, minted in Diocaesarea (Zippori), depict a temple dedicated to the Roman gods Zeus and Tyche. Opposite the temple, a monumental Roman building was also partially excavated this summer. Its function is still unclear, although its size and nature indicate that it was an important building. A courtyard with a well-preserved stone pavement was uncovered in the center of the building, upon which a pile of collapsed columns and capitals - probably the result of an earthquake - were found. AP contributed to this report.