Gaza synagogue

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Ancient synagogue (Gaza)
PikiWiki Israel 14995 Mosaic of David playing the harp.JPG
Synagogue mosaic of King David
Gaza synagogue is located in the Palestinian territories
Gaza synagogue
Shown within the Palestinian territories
LocationGaza, Palestinian territories
Coordinates31°31′14″N 34°25′57″E / 31.520533°N 34.432547°E / 31.520533; 34.432547
Founded508 AD
Site notes
Excavation dates1965

The ancient synagogue of Gaza was built in 508 AD during the Byzantine period and was discovered in 1965. It was located in the ancient port city of Gaza, then known as "Maiumas", currently the Rimal district of Gaza City.[1]


Section of the synagogue's mosaic floor

In 1965, Egyptian archaeologists discovered the site and announced they had uncovered a church.[2] Later a mosaic of King David wearing a crown and playing a lyre, labelled in Hebrew, was found. The mosaic was dated to 508-09 CE and measured 3 meters (9.8 ft) high by 1.9 meters (6.2 ft) wide.[3][4] It was originally described as depicting a female saint playing the harp.[5] The Egyptian archaeologists stated that the mosaic was in fact an Orpheus mosaic, a Greek god who was commonly associated with Christ or David and used in Byzantine art.[6] Shortly after the mosaic's discovery, the main figure's face was gouged out. When Israel captured the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War, the mosaic was transferred to the Israel Museum for restoration.[6][7]

The mosaic floor of the synagogue is on show at the Museum of the Good Samaritan, located on the Jerusalem-Jericho Road near Ma'ale Adumim.[8]


  1. ^ Ancient synagogues. Dan Urman, Paul Virgil McCracken Flesher. pg. 368.
  2. ^ Connie Kestenbaum Green. King David’s Head from Gaza Synagogue Restored, Biblical Archaeology Review Magazine (Mar/Apr 1994).
  3. ^ Ancient synagogues. Dan Urman, Paul Virgil McCracken Flesher. p.73.
  4. ^ Geoffrey W. Bromiley. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J, p. 418.
  5. ^ King David’s Head from Gaza Synagogue Restored
  6. ^ a b Israel Museum
  7. ^ The Arab Campaign to Destroy Israel, American Jewish Committee
  8. ^ Mosaic museum opens in the West Bank

Further reading[edit]

A. Ovadiah, "The Synagogue at Gaza," Qadmoniyot 1/4 (1968): 124-127, pls. c, d.
A. Ovadiah, "Excavations in the Area of the Ancient Synagogue at Gaza (Preliminary Report)," Israel Exploration Journal 19 (1969): 193-198.
A. Ovadiah, "Gaza Maiumas, 1976," Israel Exploration Journal 27 (1977): 176-178.
A. Ovadiah, "The Synagogue at Gaza," pp. 129–132 in Ancient Synagogues Revealed, ed. L. I. Levine. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1981.

External links[edit]