Wadi Hamam Excavations
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Khirbet Wadi Hamam, a Roman-period village, is located in the eastern Lower Galilee above the Wadi Arbel (Hamam) gorge, two kilometers west of the Sea of Galilee. The site is situated in a scenic location – beneath the massive cliffs of Mt. Nitai and opposite the cliffs of Mt. Arbel. One of the largest villages in the area during the Roman period, its ancient remains cover some 50 dunams. A large spring beneath the site and the proximity to the ancient route that led from the Sea of Galilee to central Galilee and to the Mediterranean coast can explain the development of such a big settlement here. An archaeological project at Khirbet Wadi Hamam began in 2007, directed by Dr. Uzi Leibner of the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology. One of the main research objectives of the project is to shed new light on the highly-debated issue of dating “Galilean”-type synagogues. While the art and architecture of this group of synagogues belongs to the Roman period, some scholars have lately been claiming that these buildings were in fact built during the Byzantine period— mainly in the 5th-6th centuries. This issue is of great importance for understanding the religious, cultural, economic, and even political world of Galilean Jewry in antiquity.

In an attempt to gain a picture of rural life in Roman Galilee, excavations are also being carried out in residential and industrial areas of the ancient village. Other research objectives are to expand our understanding of decline processes that effected Galilean settlements
during the early Byzantine period and to clarify the purpose of a massive fortification located above the site and its relation to the village.

A unique mosaic synagogue floor with depictions of biblical episodes was a major find in previous seasons. Other interesting finds were a massive destruction layer in a residential structure which buried the entire household (including weapons and a hoard of coins from the days of Hadrian); houses with passages to underground chambers; oil lamps; pottery vessels and hundreds of coins.
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