We went in search of the ancient synagogue of Um El Kanatir. All in all, this is now one of our favourite sites in Israel precisely because it combines the very ancient and very modern – so please excuse us if we try to twist your arm to work in into your Israel itinerary!Um el Kanatir is an elaborate fifth -sixth century synagogue which was destroyed by the mighty Golan earthquake of 749 CE. As you can see from the photo, the bima was reached via a short flight of stairs, and the size of the synagogue – 18 x 13 metres, and 12 metres high – makes it one of the largest ancient synagogues which have been found, and indicates the wealth of the Jewish community which lived in this area around the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
Fast forward to modern day Israel, and archaeologists Yeshu Drei and Haim Ben-David, are using innovative and highly specialised computer technology to code and digitally record each of the ancient stones which remain after the earthquake. Blocks are labelled with computer chips and a special crane lifts and inserts them in the correct sequence. This technology is creating a synagogue now restored with great accuracy, allowing us to really see precisely how ancient synagogues of this time would have looked. When complete the work will be a fine monument to the skill of the original builders of the fifth and sixth centuries CE and the meticulous reconstructors of today. If you’re looking for something a little bit off the beaten track during your tour of the North of Israel, we would love to help you include a visit to Um El Kanatir!
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