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Archaeology in Israel: Chorazin

The ruins of the town of Chorazin, dated to the Roman period (beginning in the first century BCE) to the end of the Byzantine Era (seventh century CE), are scattered over a basalt plateau just north of the Ginnosar Valley. Only a few buildings have been excavated, but the outline of the town is readily visible from the air, clearly revealing its irregular, unplanned growth as the population increased.

The town of Chorazin was apparently first occupied in the first or second century CE. Various dates have been ascribed to the synagogue at Chorazin. It was apparently built initially in the late third or early fourth centuries CE. The town and the synagogue appear to have been destroyed in the latter part of the fourth century and were rebuilt in the fifth century.

The synagogue in the heart of the town was built, like the rest of the houses, of black basalt stones. Despite the natural roughness of basalt, it could readily be carved, and the building indeed abounds in carved decorations. A broad staircase ascends to the façade which, as usual in this part of the country, faced south, toward Jerusalem, and had three large entrances. The interior of the synagogue was divided into a nave and aisles by three rows of columns forming a "U" shape. The worshipers sat on benches along the walls. The Ark of the Law was placed inside the southern wall, to the right of the central entrance. To the left of that entrance stood either the bema on which the Law was read or the special seat known as the "Cathedra of Moses," which was actually found among the ruins.

Most of the ruins visible today are from the third-fourth centuries CE. The site spans 25 acres and in addition to the synagogue features a ritual bath (mikveh), various dwellings, and an olive press. The ancient synagogue is located in the middle of Chorazin National Park.

Along with its beautiful synagogue, Chorazin is also known as one of three cities cursed by Jesus for not accepting his teachings

The remains of an olive-press and a ritual bath add some information about the daily life of the people who lived here.

Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry