So often, we stumble upon our greatest treasures by accident. This was the case in 2009 when the surprise unearthing of Magdala, the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, stunned the archaeological world.
Nathan Hitron, VP Sales and Marketing for Kenes Christian Tours, explains, “During construction of a Christian retreat center on this Sea of Galilee shoreline site, workers happened upon a Jesus-era city hidden under a shallow cover of dirt and stone. Most likely, Magdala was preserved by a landslide that took place centuries ago. As archeologists unveiled the site, they came across find after find of artifacts that bore witness to life in the First Century – a city-center, synagogue, Jewish ritual baths (miqwe’ot), a marketplace, streets and industrial facilities.”
One of the earliest ancient synagogues
This First Century synagogue is one of only seven in the world. The well-preserved synagogue features colored-plaster walls and an intact mosaic floor. Scholars believe that since Jesus frequented the synagogues in the Galilee, he surely preached the gospel at this exact house of worship.
The Magdala Stone: a rare find
Considered by many to be the most significant revelation in the Land of Israel in the past half-century, the Magdala Stone, which was uncovered in the center of the synagogue’s main hall, dates back to the first century, when the Second Temple was still standing. This intricately carved ottoman-sized rectangular stone is possibly the oldest relic depicting the Second Temple.
The latest find from digging up the past
In April, of this year, following intensive archaeological excavations at the site, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced the latest item to surface, a decorated bronze incense shovel. The shovel was used for holy rituals at the Second Temple alter in Jerusalem. Archaeologists have come to learn that the shovel was stored as a family heirloom in Magdala, and may have been used for daily work as well.
A new spiritual center
The newly built Duc In Altum located on the site is an interdenominational center for worship, teaching and prayer. Taking its name from Luke 5:4, where Jesus instructs Simon Peter to “put out into the deep” for the miraculous catch, Duc In Altum features multiple chapels, each exquisitely designed, including mosaic scenes to enhance your spiritual encounter with Jesus.
Ripe for future discovery
As Nati summarizes, “This site, which has only been open to visitors for about two years, bolsters Magdala’s position as the crossroads of Christian and Jewish history. Christian pilgrims get so much out of their sojourn to Magdala; with new digging taking place under the synagogue floor and on the southern grounds, there is no telling what we will find next.”
For more information on touring or worship at Magdala, contact Kenes Christian Tours