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Remains of Ancient Samaritan Synagogue Discovered in Israel; May Shed New Light on Sect


The remains of a Samaritan synagogue dating back to the fourth century C.E. have been unearthed in a site near Latrun under the direction of Prof. Eliezer Sukenik, of the Hebrew University, it was reported here. The archaeological discovery is expected to shed new light on the history of the Samaritan sect.

The are, where the discovery was made by a group of soldiers, is on the border of no-man’s land, which separated Israel and Arab forces. The Jewish troops manned machine-guns to ward off any possible interference with the archaeological excavations, which took five weeks to complete.

One of the chief finds is two mosaic floors of the ancient synagogue, which faced Mount Gerizim, the center of the surviving members of the Samaritans. The floors contain a Greek inscription which has not yet been deciphered, two candelabra and a verse from the Song of Moses in the Book of Exodus which differs slightly from the Masoretic version generally accepted by Jews. The finds, including the synagogue floors, have been removed to the Hebrew University under authority of the Israel Department of Antiquities. A complete study of the inscriptions will be made by University and other experts.

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