The Ancient Synagogue in Modi'in

Alexander Onn

Khirbet Umm el-Umdan is located on a hill to the north of the road joining Modi'in with the Latrun junction. The excavations revealed six main settlement strata from the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Early Islamic periods. The main finds that were discovered - a rural settlement with a central lane flanked by residential structures and a public structure identified as a synagogue - date from the second century BCE to the Bar Kokhba rebellion (132 CE).

The synagogue structure: a rectangular structure consisting of three rooms was built here in the Hasmonean period. A square (10 X 12 m.) building paved with stone slabs, and whose roof was supported by eight columns, was constructed over it in the time of Herod. The plan of the synagogue structure is similar to those of Second Temple period synagogues, such as those discovered at Masada, Herodium, and Gamla

The ritual bath: a structure whose plan consists of a number of rooms and storerooms was excavated to the west of the synagogue, and a ritual bath was uncovered in one of the rooms. The structure shows signs of violent destruction.


The bathhouse: an additional structure, of which only fragmentary remains were discovered, was identified as part of a Roman bathhouse.

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