Hamat Tiberias is an ancient archaeological site and an Israeli national park known as Hamat Tverya National Park which is located on the Tiberias-Zemach road that runs along the shore of the Sea of Galilee/Lake Kinneret to Tiberias. Second-century Hammata is believed to have been built on the ruins of the biblical city of Hammath.
"Hammat" is the Hebrew and generally Semitic word for "hot spring". The Hebrew plural is "hamei" and is used to name the springs at the site and the resort centered around them: Hamei Tveriya. Tiberias is the name of the adjacent larger city established in the second century CE, which in Hebrew was and still is called, Tveriya. Since several places bore the name "Hammat", the distinction was made here by adding Tiberias/Tveriya to the name. Spelling varies for both parts of the Hebrew name.
The 17 springs of Hamat Tiberias have been known since antiquity for their curative properties. The site was rediscovered in 1920 when the Tiberias-Samakh road was being constructed.
The Hammat Tiberias Synagogue is an ancient synagogue on the outskirts of Tiberias, Israel, located near the hot springs just south of the city. The synagogue dates to 286 and 337 CE, when Tiberias was the seat of the Sanhedrin. Two synagogue sites have been excavated at Hammat Tiberias. The first, uncovered in 1921 by Nachum Slouschz, working under the sponsorship of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society, was a watershed event in the history of Israeli archaeology as the first archaeological dig conducted under Jewish auspices. A limestone menorah uncovered there is now on display at the Israel Museum. The mosaic floor is made up of three panels featuring the zodiac and Helios the sun god. Women symbolizing the four seasons appear in each corner.
The second synagogue site, excavated by Moshe Dothan, is noted for its elaborate mosaic floor. The synagogue, dated to the last half of the fourth century C.E., was named after an inscription that reads, in Greek, "Severus the pupil of the most illustrious patriarchs," an apparent reference to the leaders of the Jewish community.
In the center of one large mosaic is the Sun god, Helios, sitting in his chariot holding the celestial sphere and a whip. Nine of the 12 signs of the zodiac survived intact. Another panel shows a Torah ark flanked by two the seven-branched menorahs and other Jewish ritual objects.
- The Guide to Israel, Zev Vilnay, Jerusalem, 1972, p.486
- Zev Vilnay (June 1978). Legends of Galilee, Jordan, and Sinai. Jewish Publication Society of America. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-8276-0106-2. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
- S. Fine, Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Toward a new Jewish Archaeology (Cambridge, 2005), 22-7
- Hamat Tiberias National Park, An opulent synagogue and ancient medical baths
- Hamat Tiberias National Park at the Israeli Parks Authority site.