archaeologists have announced that ruins long thought to be of an
ancient synagogue are actually the remains of a palace used by Muslim
caliphs 1,300 years ago.
— Israeli archaeologists have announced that ruins long thought to be
of an ancient synagogue are actually the remains of a palace built by
Arab caliphs 1,300 years ago.
The site, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, was identified as a
synagogue in the 1950s because archaeologists found a carving of a
menorah, a seven-armed candelabra that is a Jewish symbol. But scholars
said in a report published this week that the identification was an
error, and that the site was a winter palace used by the caliphs of the
Umayyad dynasty, the same rulers who built Jerusalem’s gold-capped Dome
of the Rock.
Early Arab historians had described the palace, calling it al-Sinnabra, but its location was previously unknown.
The new identification came as part of a broader reexamination of the site, which contains ruins dating back to the Bronze Age.
The Umayyad caliphs ruled the Islamic world from 661 to 750 A.D., expanding its borders from modern-day Spain to Pakistan.
Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University
conducting the new review said this week that the confusion arose from
the relatively primitive archaeological techniques of the 1950s.
The palace was also dismantled down to its foundations after the
fall of the dynasty, leaving nothing behind but a foundation and few
clues to help date the structure.
Archaeologists at the time also believed, erroneously, that the
early Arab caliphates did not carry out many large-scale building
Researchers first began to raise doubts about the origins of the
structure in the 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2002 that archaeologist
Donald Whitcomb from the University of Chicago first suggested that the
site might in fact be the missing Umayyad palace. That identification
was confirmed by archaeologists this week.
The identification of the structure as a synagogue was based on the
image of a menorah that the early excavators found carved into the top
of a pillar base. But the scholars behind the new review of the site
realized that the carving was a red herring — that surface would have
been covered by a pillar in the original structure, so the carving must
have been added later.
The researchers say it’s possible the ruins were later used as a synagogue, or possibly just as a canvas for ancient graffiti.
Rafi Greenberg, a professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University
who is directing the project, said the palace’s correct identification
would help show the architectural continuity between the Roman and
early Arab empires. "This is happening at many sites that are being
re-dated with better resolution and understanding," he said.
Comment by What Really Happened .com
Another archaeological "proof" of ancient Israel goes "poof!"
Egypt is literally littered with the ruins of the ancient temples
and palaces of her rulers. As much as has been found, it is estimated
that only 1/3 of Egypt’s archeological wonders have been uncovered. A
newly discovered temple was uncovered while digging a sewer line, and a
cache of finely preserved mummies was literally stumbled over by a cow
in a pasture.
Iraq’s ancient heritage was enshrined in its ancient sites and
museum. As a result of the war, many of those sites have been damaged
or destroyed. Part of the ancient city or Ur now lies underneath a US
air base runway. Nebuchadnezzar’s palace now lies underneath a US-built
parking lot. The treasures of the museum have only partly been
recovered. The treasures from the looted archaeological sites have been
scattered to the world.
All of this wealth of archaeological treasures must of course annoy
Israel. We are raised from birth with Old Testament tales of the
greatness of the ancient Israelites, of the powerful kingdoms of
Solomon and David and the first temple. Yet Israel, while rich in
antiquities, is almost totally devoid of artifacts from this supposedly
glorious time in her history. The existence of the fabled First Temple
was supported with just two artifacts, a carved staff ornament in the
shape of a pomegranate and the Jehoash tablet. Both of these artifacts
have been exposed as frauds. We are told that once there was a
magnificent temple on that hill, but it "all went away."
The wonders emerging from the soil of Egypt, Iraq, and Iran serve as
a constant reminder that ancient buildings of such a scale as we are
told the First Temple was simply do not vanish without a trace.
There is considerable reason to suspect that the tales told in the Old
Testament are just that; tales. The Bible is not science, it is the
collected stories of a primitive tribal people telling each other how
important they are. And like fishermen talking about the one that got
away, or Ramses with his temple carvings of the did-not-really-happen
victory over the Hittites at Kadesh, the writers of the ancient
testaments assumed that the people they were telling stories to had no
way to verify the claims for themselves. So "embellishment" was a
We do know from the available archaeological evidence that the
Exodus probably actually happened to the Hyksos, not the Israelites. We
know that the story of Moses is suspect because no Egyptian princess
would hide a Hebrew child inside Pharaoh’s household, then give the kid
a Hebrew name ("Moses" is actually an Egyptian title meaning "Prince"
and is included in the names of many Pharaoh’s names such as Tut-Moses,
Ah-Moses, Ra-Moses (Ramses) etc.)
Likewise, the story of Masada may be less than accurate. The remains
found on the mountain were buried with pig bones, something no proper
Jewish funeral would tolerate, which suggests that the bodies found and
venerated as heroes of ancient Judea were actually those of dead
Romans, for whom burial often involved animals as gifts to the spirit
of the dead.
But a good story is a good story and the writers of the ancient
texts were probably not thinking much further into the future than the
guys who pen the "Celebrity dates space alien" stories you see at
supermarket checkout lines. The fact that the celebrity is a real
person does not prove the space alien exists. It’s just a story.
Given enough time, even a simple story written in jest can take on a
life of its own. Scientology began as a bet between two science fiction
writers; look how wide spread that has become in just a short time.
But, over time, entire religions with attendant wealth and power
structures have been built on the premise that these old testament
stories really happened exactly as written. And today, here in the 21st
century world, science has started to catch up with these ancient
legends and call many of them into doubt.
So, for a nation that justifies its existence on the writings of the
Torah, the plethora of sites and artifacts confirming the ancient
histories of Egypt, Iraq, Iran, etc. etc. etc. must seem a dire
political threat for a nation whose own ancient history seems to have
left little if any traces at all.
In that context, the strange behavior of the US military which
posted guards around the Iraq oil ministry while bulldozing Iraq’s
archaeological sites starts to make sense, if the supporters of a very
insecure nation decide that leveling the archaeological playing field
is preferable to allowing the obvious disparity in artifacts to remain
visible to the world.