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Alabama Prof. Uncovers 2,000-Year-Old Village in Northern Israel

”Shikhin,” in northern Israel, is mentioned many times in the Talmud. Its location had not been known until a US-led team of archaeologists found it, along with an ancient synagogue.

An oil lamp fragment found on a dig in the ancient Jewish village of Shikhin in the Lower Galilee in northern Israel

An oil lamp fragment found on a dig in the ancient Jewish village of Shikhin in the Lower Galilee in northern Israel
Photo Credit: Photo provided by Samford University

A U.S.-led team of archaeologists has announced it has discovered the site of Shikhin in the Lower Galilee, which is mentioned even before the Second Temple by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus and which existed after the destruction of the Temple.

The Talmud mentions Shikhin as a village of potters near Tzippori, which was a Talmudic center after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Josephus wrote that Shikhin as one of the earliest Jewish settlements in the Galilee at the time of the Hasmonaean rule about 140-63 B.C..

Religion Prof. Riley Strange, of Alabama’s Samford University, led a team of David Fiensy of Kentucky Christian University and Mordechai Aviam, of the Kinneret Academic College, and students and researchers, many of whom worked for nearly two years at the site approximately five miles northwest of Nazareth.

They found an ancient synagogue, houses and massive evidence of pottery production in the ancient village of Shikhin, near the ancient Talmudic center of Tzippori.

“The site of the discovery has been abandoned, except for agriculture, ever since the mid-fourth century A.D.,” said Prof. Strange. “The buildings came down and people used its stones in other nearby buildings, then those buildings were destroyed and the stones were re-used again.”

Like Tziporri, where ongoing archaeological digs have come up with numerous discoveries, Shikhin flourished as a Jewish village while co-existing with Christian neighbors.

The archaeologists uncovered a large number of molds that are proof that the village potters produced various types of seven-branched oil lamps in addition to common pottery forms. One small fragment of an oil lamp is decorated with a Menorah and Lulav, the palm branch used on the holiday of Sukkot.

The discovery is considered highly significant and opens up a treasure chest that sheds more light on the rich culture of the period and of the economic and religious lives of Jews in an era when Christians began to be influential.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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5 Responses to “Alabama Prof. Uncovers 2,000-Year-Old Village in Northern Israel”

  1. Joanna C Strange says:

    An error: The site was first discovered in 1988 by James F Strange of USF. He did the very first survey and realized it was a pottery center. His son, James R Strange, decided to did there after the elder Dr. Strange retired from the field at Sepphoris. So the site was already known to the archaeologists in the area, but no one had yet excavated. This does not in any way diminish the excitement of the site. Certainly, finding a synagogue means it had a large enough population to warrant building one. I know this because one of those guys is my dad and the other is my brother.

  2. When an Arab MK with stupid certainty utters that his people inhibited the Holy Land before the Jews, then it’s a convenient excavation Dr. Strange comes up with. – Not that further evidence of Jewish settlements is needed, but to that ignoramus – like the Arab in Knesset, who deny the in-deniable – it seems to be a necessity. Once in a while.

  3. Deborah Cressler says:

    I sometimes wonder if they write the articles on this website with a set amount of words they can use. Since one lady posted the site was actually found in 1988 and not excavated till now, you would think they would have included the original date of find.

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