Shikhin (Hebrew: שִׁיחִין), also known as Asochis, was a central Galilean village about 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of Nazareth that was abandoned in the fourth century AD. As of May 2012[update], the site is under excavation. So far, evidence of extensive pottery work and a synagogue have been uncovered.
First-century historian Josephus refers to Shikhin as Asochis (Greek: Ἀσωχίς). He described the village as one of the first Jewish settlements formed in Galilee. He dated it to the Hasmonaean Dynasty (140-63 BC). The Talmud describes the village as being home to many potters. The village was abandoned in the fourth century AD when the buildings were dismantled and the stones reused elsewhere. The Plain of Asochis lay nearby, identified today as Beit Netofa Valley (Sahel el-Buttauf), an area south of Kfar Manda, but due north of Sepphoris.
An archeological survey of Shikhin began in 2011. In 2012, excavation got underway led by James Riley Strange of Samford University, Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College and David Fiensy of Kentucky Christian University. In August 2013, the team announced that it had uncovered evidence of an ancient synagogue and houses. They also found evidence of pottery production in the area. Sarcophagi, both plain and decorated with stone relief, designed to remain above ground, have been uncovered on neighboring Jabel Qat, which may be the cemetery of Shikhin. Many caves and wine press cisterns are also found on Jabel Qat. Plans for future excavation will focus on "studying the cultural heritage of the village."
Strange said he believes the site will further lend understanding of Galilean Jewish village life and the economy during the period of time when the Talmud was written and Christianity was establishing itself. Seven molds used to make oil lamps, the most ever found in a village in Israel, were recovered from the site. According to Aviam, this is strong evidence that "the production of oil lamps was very important" to Shikhin.
- Sammy Hudes (August 5, 2013). "Shikhin, Talmudic village home to many potters, found near Tzipori". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
- "Samford professor finds ancient Jewish village". San Francisco Gate. AP. August 4, 2013. Retrieved August 4, 2013.
- Greg Garrison (August 5, 2013). "Samford archaeological dig in Israel uncovers Jewish village". Alabama Media Group. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- Strange, James (1994). "Excavations at Sepphoris: The Location and Identification of Shikhin". Israel Exploration Journal. 44 (3/4): 216–227. JSTOR 27926349. (Registration required (. ))
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