Fourth or Fifth-Century Synagogue

Looking northeast, ruins of Capernaum Synagogue, late fourth century C.E. White limestone, Capernaum, Sea of Galilee.  Photograph by Chad Spigel.

One of the oldest synagogues in the world, the Capernaum synagogue encompasses four distinct areas: a hall for prayer, a western patio, a southern porch, and a small room at the northwest corner. The prayer hall faces Jerusalem in the south, in accordance with Jewish law, which dictates that the faithful face toward Jerusalem during prayer. The ruins preserve Greek-inspired architectural ornamentation, including the Corinthian column capitals shown here. Also found at the site are sophisticated carved stone reliefs with geometric designs including eagles, fig leaves, and swastikas, a shocking site for modern viewers. Swastikas were a common decorative motif in antiquity

Looking northeast into the synagogue in Capernaum. This large limestone basilica was constructed in the late 4th or 5th century C.E.

The historical period from the beginning of Western civilization to the start of the Middle Ages.

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