Synagogue of En Gedi

This spectacular mosaic floor from a synagogue built in the second or third century was found at the oasis of En Gedi along the Dead Sea. The synagogue hall shown here is 45 feet long and about 30 feet wide. It follows the synagogue style found in Capernaum, Korazin, and Gamla.

The rectangular structure in the floor background is the bema, or reader?s platform. The bases for columns around the outside are seen in the floor. This synagogue also faces towards Jerusalem, so it was built after AD 70.

The mosaic floor is among the most beautiful ever found. It is made of small stones of different minerals that provided an array of colors. The artist who created it found white, black, reddish pink, red, brown, yellow, and blue-gray stones, which he carefully cut into tiny pieces (called tesserae). He then laid them in mortar, creating the designs shown here. Geometric designs form the outside borders. The center panel shows birds, peacocks, and grapes. The beauty and craftsmanship seen here emphasize how important the synagogue was to this community, just as it was important in Jesus? time.