Mother of Arches, Byzantine Period Synagogue at the North of Israel
Planning to visit some unique and off the beaten path historical sites often leads to traveling to Israel’s magnificent North. There, especially in the Ramat HaGolan area, you may discover amazing places and stories to share back home with your relatives and friends. Mother of Arches, Byzantine Period Synagogue at the North of Israel Planning to visit some unique and off the beaten path historical sites often leads to traveling to Israel’s magnificent North. There, especially in the Ramat HaGolan area, you may discover amazing places and stories to share back home with your relatives and friends. Our country is famous for the abundance of the historical landmarks, unfortunately, not all of them are showing the signs of the past splendor. The responsibility partly lays in the series of very powerful earthquakes that damaged Israel and Mediterranean in the first 800 years AD. Israeli authorities funded and carried reconstruction of the key sites located in Jerusalem, Beit Shan, Tiberias, Zippori. But more than once we would go to some famous location in Galilee or even the central part of the country and would be left with just a couple of stone wall pieces or remnants of the pavement. Mother of Arches site in the Sothern Golan was a great surprise form the first visit. The yellow mobile crane was busy forth and back on its rails, carrying basalt blocks. And three men were directing and easing the blocks into a destined place with the assurance of Master Builders of the past. Black walls of stone and some pillars raised a few levels up. Something not short of a miracle was happening. A large pile of basalt reported to be here just a few years ago was methodically turning into an impressive and artistic building. We saw the beautiful stone Menorah. Basalt lion was smiling at us, showing some long tongue. You just wait and see…
It was known to the archeological societies since the 19th century that there might be a ruin of the synagogue at the site.
At the beginning of the past century, another excavation was held. But although the archeologists were rewarded with some precious finds it seemed that a much greater effort is needed to transform a large pile of stone blocks into a building it once was.
In 2003 after some lengthy bureaucratic battles, the excavations took off; It revealed more about the three large stone arches with a water pool, dating back to the original Roman settlement and probably gave the name to the site. Then came a groundbreaking idea of mapping the area of the synagogue with 3D laser scans. It provided the archeologists with the precise location and measurements of every block in the pile. Then each block was tagged with implanted radio-frequency identification microchip for tracking. Tagged blocks were relocated aside from the pile and a new scan was made. And it went on till all of the blocks were tagged and mapped.
With computer software, a 3d model of the synagogue was created. And then a heavy lifting began. For years a 15 meters high yellow crane became a landmark of the excavations. Hard and precise labor and lots of creative thinking were rewarded by a beautiful structure rising and taking a distinct shape for all to see. Today anyone can visit the site and enjoy the glorious building with its distinctive carvings and the Torah Shrine. And while the magnificent view of the Sea of Galilee, we can appreciate not only the effort of the archeologists but also look at our ancestors work and dedication with pride. In some opinion, it should take the villagers between 40 and 80 years to complete the building of such size.