|Synagogue ruins discovered in Finike (ancient Limyra), Turkey. AA photo|
Synagogue Discovered at Ancient Site of Limyra in Southern Turkeyreports that an ancient synagogue has been excavated at the city of Limyra in southern Turkey. The news reports is not very clear, but its seem the synagogue dates from before the fourth century, and was subsequently repaired. We will have to await a fully report and also photos of the finds. Is the menorah mentinoed an image of an menorah as was common in ancient synagogues, or a three-dimensional functional menorah, or a sculpted representation (also known from elsewhere. Was the bath that is mentions a mikvah, or some other water element for either ritual or functional use - also as known elsewhere? Here is what has been released:
Researchers initially thought the house of worship was a glass furnace, according to the head of the excavations, Dr. Martin Seyer of the Austrian Archaeology Institute. “We first found a bath and a menorah. After some [further] investigation, we found out that it was a synagogue,” he said.Limyra was part of the Lycian League, a confederation of coastal cities later annexed as a province of the Roman Empire. The region of the excavation is rich in archaeological remains of ancient towns of cities of many eras (I remember well the thrill of discovery when I hitch-hiked through the region in the summer of 1978. Ancient ruins seemed to be everywhere.)
Second synagogue in the Lycian city
The synagogue in Limyra, which is located in Turunçova in Antalya’s Finike district, is the second to be found in the historical Lycian region after one discovered in 2009 in the ancient city of Myra in Antalya’s Demre district. Limyra was the former capital of the Lycian Federation, which some have called the first democratic union.
“We have excavated a small part of the synagogue field, but we think that the synagogue was on a very large field,” he said, citing the relevant law under Emperor Theodosius that only permitted the restoration of existing synagogues rather than the construction of new Jewish houses of worship. “There was a wide and rich Jewish group of people living there. The synagogue is a very important discovery for Jews and the ancient city of Limyra. Thanks to this synagogue, we have chance to see the Limyra excavations and its history.”
Excavations will continue in the area around the synagogue next year, Seyer said, adding that the ancient city would attract many more tourists once the archaeological work is complete.
Of course, other synagogues have been discovered in western and southern Turkey, notably at the coastal city of Priene and the inland Lydian (later Roman) capital of Sardis where the most impressive of all ancient western Diaspora synagogues was found as part of a major public building complex in the center of the city. The existence of a large and prosperous Jewish community in ancient Anatolia is well-known from archaeological finds and documentation, not to mention the person of Saint Paul, originally a Jew from the southern city of Tarsus, a city further east along the Anatolia's southern coast.