Unearthing an Episode in Ancient Jewish Art

Detail showing the military commander Barak, who was described in the book of Judges, chapter 4. Photo courtesy of Jim Haberman

Carolina religious studies professor Jodi Magness and a team of UNC students have unearthed ancient mosaics in Israel that are the earliest known depictions of the battle between the Israelites and Canaanites as related in the Bible’s book of Judges, chapter four.

“This is the first depiction of this episode and the first time we’ve seen a depiction of the biblical heroines Deborah and Jael in ancient Jewish art,” Magness said. “We can see how the story might have had special resonance for the Jewish community at Huqoq, as it is described as taking place in the same geographical region.”

Detail from a fragmented Hebrew dedicatory inscription showing a fox eating a cluster of grapes. Photo courtesy of Jim Haberman

Magness and her team first began excavating the Huqoq site in 2012. The temple was built in the late fourth or early fifth century. The mosaics have been removed from the site for conservation.

Share via: