Ancient City Found: Birthplace Of Mary Magdalene?

Archaeologists and researchers in Israel believe they may have discovered an ancient community that could have been the birthplace and home of Mary Magdalene. The site is located in Migdal, a town in Northern Israel on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Father Juan Solana told CNN he purchased a plot of land six years earlier, and Solana's land just happened to be located directly over the synagogue dig site. Due to the wealth of archaeological finds around the land, Israeli law required Solana to allow excavation, and that's when the the 2,000-year-old synagogue was unearthed.

Centuries ago, Migdal was called Magdala, and the area is likely where Mary Magdalene lived, and possibly even met Jesus Christ. As mentioned in the New Testament, the Gospels give reference to a "woman of Magdala." Mary Magdalene (Mary from Magdala) was recorded in scripture to have washed the feet of Jesus Christ. It is possible that Jesus visited Magdala, and he may have even preached in the newly-discovered synagogue.

In Roman times, Magadala was a wealthy Jewish town, and, according to a blog post by Hebrew University professor Danny Herman, the Greeks called it "Tarichaea," so the area was likely famed for its fish. Magdala Jews revolted against Roman occupation in the year 66 CE, and, inevitably, Magdala was destroyed. The area lost most of its inhabitants over time.

The lost city was a joy for archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) to unearth.

"I found myself in the middle of a family vacation in Cyprus jumping with excitement from seeing the image of the relief on my cell-phone screen" IAA team leader archaeologist Dina Avshalom-Gorni said, with great excitement as reported by Herman's blog.

The image was a of a new kind of stone relief not seen before. The picture sent to her phone was that of a seven-branched candelabra (a Menorah) etched on a decorated stone slab, which her colleague, Arfan Najar, found on a floor of a first century CE synagogue at the site of Magdala. Such a menorah would have been placed in a synagogue during the Early Roman period, the time of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.

Dina returned to complete the excavation of the decorated stone. She and her team found that the other sides were similarly decorated, mostly with images of palm trees. The team guesses the ornately-carved stone may have been a base for a stand on which the Torah may have been read.

"There are no parallels to this stone, and so I am still trying to figure out its exact function," Dina concluded.

Israel has been a source of a great many finds of late. For example, Tel Zafit National Park, near Jerusalem, has yielded finds including an 11th century temple, the remains of a Crusader castle, and the famed Goliath Gate, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.

In giving up his land for the excavation, Father Solana said, "It is not for me. This is for millions of people that will come see this, will enjoy this as I did, and hopefully will be able to discover our common roots at the center. This is a holy site, I'm sure of that."

Avshalom-Gorni revealed that her team also discovered preserved frescoes on the walls with "vivid" colors. The Magdalene site now adds to a mere six synagogue locations that have been found to date from the early Roman period. In the Bible, Jesus preached in "synagogues throughout Galilee." This recently discovery is the only Galilean synagogue that dates back to the time of Christ.

A researcher participating in the excavation told the Huffington Post that the synagogue dates back to the period of Mary Magdalene, but there is currently no archaeological evidence to prove Jesus Christ or Mary Magdalene ever set foot inside.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]