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Discovery of an ancient synagogue
and a study hall in the Galilee

The holy tomb in Maros

1978 .


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In 1977 Zvi Ilan studied manuscripts of the Cairo Genizah written

in the 14-th century .
One of them was a list of pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land .
It included a site named Maros.


The manuscript where Maros is mentioned

The rebels against the Roman Empire

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Josephus Flavius mentioned Meroth in a list of
Galilee towns he had fortified in preparation for the
Jewish rebel of 66 AC.

?Is Maros the ancient town Meroth

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Zvi Ilan and Joseph Stefansky surveyed the ruins of an
Arab village named Maros, 4 km west of Tel Hazor.
After a long search they found the heads of 2 columns
peeping out of the ground under the bushes.


After 1st clean-up

Zvi Ilan an Independent Researcher

Zvi Ilan asked for support.
The experts were skeptical !
Finally Zvi obtained a license and a small budget from the Israel
Antiquities Authority.
Emanuel Damaty joined the excavation management.

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The excavation was done by volunteers



1987 -
Eastern view

Stages 1 and2
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(7 ') . 3
The 3rd stage
7th century AC


Treasury room

Study room

425 .

Yudan bar Shimon
mni. Who is Yudan?
The Donor?
The artist?
The word mni
is not understood

Mosaic from the 5th

century AC, portraying
an unknown figure. It
may be David
surrounded by
Goliaths weapons

The mosaic in the

Gaza synagogue


Pedestal to a wooden cabinet for Torah scrolls

The Synagogue Treasury



In a storeroom beside the prayer hall we found

pottery and glass lamps. In the floor was a stone
with a hole which rested above a hollow carved in
a rock. A sloping path hewn in the rock led to a
niche the community treasury

Notice the hole in the floor above the treasury

Zvi Ilan and Zeev Nitzan with the treasury coins.

Bronze scales found near the treasury

485 245 , .
.1193- 5 7.
coins were found, including 245 gold coins. The 485
.oldest dated from 80-76 BC, the latest from 1193 AC


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In order to move the mosaic floor to the Israel Museum we dismantled

part of the northern wall. Below the threshold of the entrance was found
a bronze amulet, dated to the 7th century AC.

The bronze amulet

Reading and translation by Joseph Naveh and Ada

For your mercy and faithfulness

in the name of god will we act And succeed
Strong and mighty God-praised Be your
And blessed your kingdom! As you subdue
The sea with your horses and stamp the

Beneath your feet and as you subdue
The trees in the winter and the grasses of
earth in summer so may be [subdue]
the inhabitants of this village

Before Yossi son of Zenobia. I pray you

May my word and authority be

(imposed) Over them just as
The heavens are subdued before God
And the land is subdued before

Mankind, And mankind is

Subdued before death,
And death is subdued before
So may the people
Of this village be subdued,
Routed, and fallen
Before Yossi son of Zenobia.
In the name of Hatuaa the
Who was sent before Israel
I make a sign success
Success amen
Amen selah




The Beth Midrash - The Study hall

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Stone Lintel over the Study hall door

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Blessed will you be when you come in, and blessed will you be when you go out
Deuteronomy 28:6

Is this house the most ancient Beth Midrash?

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A quotation from MIDRASH TANCHUMA of the Talmud:
Blessed will you be when you come in provided that you come to
synagogues and study halls. and blessed will you be when you go
out provided that you get out of synagogues and study halls.

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The verse from the Prophecy of the End of Days

Isaiah 65:25

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together

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When and why Meroth was abandoned?

. 1000-
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A prosperous Jewish community lived in Meroth for more than a 1000 years.
The last coin of the treasury is from 1193 AC, Six years after the defeat of the
Crusaders at the Horns-of-Hittin battle. Apparently the people of Meroth had to
flee during the ensuing unstable period, abandoning most of the treasury.

Dr. Zvi Ilan in Meroth, overlooking the Huleh valley ,"

The Site status ( 2008 )

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The excavation site includes copies of the 2 mosaics with guideposts. It is
situated within an Army training zone. One can obtain a permission from
the Army authorities to visit there on Fridays, Saturdays or Holidays only.
The dirt road to Meroth, 4 km west of Tel Hazor, starting off Route 90, is
passable to 4x4 vehicles only.

Meroth is in danger of deterioration!


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In the 18 years since Zvi Ilan passed away, his students kept Meroth in
good condition. Now they are growing old, and some of them have
already passed away too. Without their loving care Meroths condition
will soon deteriorate, unless superseded by new volunteers!!

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Slide show by Almoga Ilan

" 1936-1990
Dr. Zvi Ilan

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. , 1987 ,
." ,"1987 ,
" , "
. 1990 ,
Ancient Synagogues edited by D. Urman and P. Flesher, Brill, 1998; pages