Magdala Stone

The Magdala stone is a carved stone block unearthed by archaeologists in a Galilean synagogue in Israel, dating to before the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. The original stone has been removed for safekeeping; a replica is displayed in the ancient synagogue at Migdal. The stone as intended to lend to this synagogue a sacred aura, making it, “like a lesser Temple”, for use in the Galilee, which was a long journey from Jerusalem under the conditions of that pedestrian era, when most people traveled by foot.

circa 50 CE

The facade of the stone, on the side that faces Jerusalem, features an arch supported by a pair of pillars. Within the arch a seven-branched menorah sits atop what appears to be a pedestal, flanked by a pair of two-handled jugs which may be sitting on some sort of stands.

circa 50 CE

The stone's side panels are identical; each shows an arcade of four arches. Interpretations of the carvings vary. While some have interpreted the sides as showing three arches filled with sheaves of grain (probably wheat), and a fourth with a hanging object thought to be an oil lamp, others, including Rina Talgam and Mordechai Aviam see it as an architectural image.

circa 50 CE

The large six petal rosette relief atop the stone was a common design in Jewish funerary art during the Second Temple period. Its meaning is as yet unknown, but it is also found among the ruins of Gamla on a lintel stone flanked by two palm trees.

circa 50 CE

The back of the stone depicts a pillared structure with two wheels above a geometric shape, illustrating fire. Presumably, the front and sides of the stone carvings represent the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and the back side depicting wheels and fire represents the Holy of Holies.

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