The remnants of a Second Temple era synagogue have been uncovered in Russia, according to a Tuesday archaeological news release.
The remains of a synagogue from the time of the Second Temple were discovered in the ancient Grecian city of Phanagoria, located in what is today Southwestern Russia between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.
The finding marks the discovery of one of the world’s oldest synagogues and, according to analysis of fragments found at the site, it likely stood for over half a millennium after being constructed around the beginning of the first century BCE.
The synagogue was built in a rectangular shape, roughly 70 feet long and 20 feet wide, and divided into two rooms. The structure featured painted walls, a tiled roof, and other decorations. Additionally, archaeologists uncovered several menorahs, altars, and marble stele fragments.
A pair of tablets located at the site were also successfully dated to the first century.
According to the researchers on the project, few synagogues were being built or functioning during the time of this synagogue’s construction.
In first-century Israel, Jews subsiding in Judea lived under Roman occupation and faced specific political struggles as a result. The ancient Phanagoria was erected hundreds of miles away.
The researchers noted that many of the earliest synagogues so far discovered date back to the third century, several hundred years later than the Phanagoria synagogue.
It, however, was likely destroyed in the sixth century when raiding barbarian tribes razed Phanagoria.
Nearby, in Krasnodar, the thriving Jewish community gladly received the news of the synagogue’s discovery.
Coming visit from local Jewish community
The rabbi of Krasnodar, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lazar is set to bring a delegation to visit the site after being invited by the archaeological authority.
According to the release, the archaeological efforts involved in unearthing the ancient house of Jewish worship received aid from funding provided by the Volnoe Delo Foundation. The foundation was established by Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska.