Goddess of Fortune 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A wall painting (fresco) of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune, was exposed during the 11th season of excavation at the Sussita site, on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee, according to a University of Haifa statement released Thursday.
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During the season of excavation, which was conducted by researchers of the University of Haifa, another female figure was found, of a maenad, one of the companions of the wine god Dionysus.
"It is interesting to see that although the private residence in which two goddesses were found was in existence during the Byzantine period, when Christianity negated and eradicated idolatrous cults, one can still find clear evidence of earlier beliefs," said Prof. Arthur Segal and Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, who headed the excavation.
The city of Sussita is located within the Sussita National Park under
the management of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which has
accompanied and assisted the excavation teams this season in enabling
the continuation of excavation work and the conservation of the
During the course of the excavations conducted by the team from Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota, under the direction of Prof. Mark Schuler, in a
residence that appeared, by the quality and complexity of its
construction, to belong to one of the city notables, the excavators
reached an inner courtyard with a small fountain at its center.
The goddess Tyche was not the only mythological figure to be discovered
in this compound. Found on a bone plate was a wonderfully etched relief
of a maenad, one of a group of female followers of Dionysus, the god of
According to Greek mythology, the maenads accompanied Dionysus with
frenzied dances while holding a thyrsus, a device symbolizing sexuality,
fertility, and the male sexual organ associated with sexual pleasure.
The maenad of Sussita was also depicted as being in the midst of a frenzied dance.
The researchers believe that both manifestations of the cult of
Graeco-Roman female goddesses can be dated to the end of the Roman
period, but there is no doubt that the residence in which they were
found continued to exist even after Christianity triumphed over
This is a large-sized building that incorporated the city's central commercial, social and judicial areas.
Besides the excellent architectural marble items that were unearthed
there, the researchers also found decorations made of âstuccoâ,
molded plaster used in the imitation of marble. "We could not fail to
wonder how a relatively plebeian city could employ first-class builders
The stucco decorations demonstrate that despite everything, the city
rulers were certainly not sparing of the costs and expenditure of
construction," the researchers noted.
Sussita was erected on a mountain top rising to the east of the Sea of
Galilee during the 2nd century B.C.E. by the Seleucid rulers who then
controlled the country. The city existed during the Hellenist, Roman,
Byzantine and Umayyad periods, until it was destroyed by a violent
earthquake in the year 749 C.E.
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