Rare Alexander the Great Mosaic Unearthed in Ancient Synagogue in Israel

An intricate mosaic depicting Alexander the Great meeting a Jewish high priest was uncovered in a 5th-century synagogue at the archeological site in the ancient village of Huqoq.

An extremely rare find, the mosaic is significant because it is the first non-biblical scene discovered in an ancient synagogue.

The colorful floor-piece shows a meeting of two men and also depicts several other human and animal figures.

The presence of elephants indicates that the figures are Greek, experts said. Photo: Jim Haberman via The Daily Mail

The presence of elephants indicates that the figures are Greek, experts say.
Photo: Courtesy of Jim Haberman via Daily Mail.

The head of the American team of archaeologists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, professor Jodi Magness, told the Daily Mail that the inclusion of elephants in the scene indicates that at least one of the figures was Greek.

“Battle elephants were associated with Greek armies beginning with Alexander the Great, so this might be a depiction of a Jewish legend about the meeting between Alexander and the Jewish high priest,” she said.

Several other intricate mosaics have been unearthed at Huqoq since 2012. Photo: Jim Haberman via The Daily Mail

Several other intricate mosaics have been unearthed at Huqoq since 2012.
Photo: Courtesy of Jim Haberman via Daily Mail.

“Different versions of this story appear in writings of Flavius Josephus and in rabbinic literature,” she explained.

The archaeological excavation of the site at Huqoq, which is supported by the Israel Antiquities Authority, has been ongoing since 2012. Researchers have previously unearthed several splendid mosaics in the area, including an image of Samson.

This mosaic depicting Samson was found in the east aisle of the ancient Synagogue. Photo: Jim Haberman via The Daily Mail

This mosaic depicting Samson was found in the east aisle of the ancient Synagogue.
Photo: Courtesy of Jim Haberman via Daily Mail.

Professor Magness called the artworks “unique discoveries,” emphasizing that “the images in these mosaics, as well as their high level of artistic quality, and the columns painted with vegetal motifs have never been found in any other ancient synagogue.”


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