Excavations reveal ancient synagogue in Turkish town near tourist hotspot
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Excavations reveal ancient synagogue in Turkish town near tourist hotspot

Among the remains was a plaque with a menorah motif and an inscription in Hebrew and Greek stating that it was donated by a father in honour of a son who passed away at a young age

The floor of the synagogue in Side, Turkey, features a plaque with Greek and Hebrew inscriptions. (Jonathan Lansey/https://www.twitter.com/JLansey)
The floor of the synagogue in Side, Turkey, features a plaque with Greek and Hebrew inscriptions. (Jonathan Lansey/https://www.twitter.com/JLansey)

The remains of an ancient synagogue dating back as far as the 7th century have been discovered in a resort town on Turkey’s mediterranean coast.

The synagogue was found recently in the town of Side, not far from the tourist hotspot of Antalya, in southern Turkey.

Among the remains was a plaque with a menorah motif and an inscription in Hebrew and Greek stating that it was donated by a father in honour of a son who passed away at a young age. The plaque ends with the Hebrew word “Shalom.”

The town was home to Jews for centuries, but until this discovery there was little evidence of Jewish life there beyond a few records from the late Byzantine period.

(Jonathan Lansey /https://www.twitter.com/JLansey)

Since 2014, Turkish authorities and the town’s own citizens have worked together to try to preserve some of its history.

That year was “a turning point for Side in terms of research and conservation,”said Feriştah Alanyali, an archeologist from Anadolu University who is leading the excavations, according to the Turkish Jewish news outlet Avlaremoz. “Many works have been done that could not be done until now.”

Though today Side is a popular destination for Russian and European tourists, in ancient times it was an important Mediterranean port city, adopting Greek culture after its conquest by Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. It maintained a Greek identity until it was abandoned in the 12th century after the conquest of Anatolia by the Seljuk Turks.

(Jonathan Lansey/https://www.twitter.com/JLansey)

The city was ultimate repopulated in the end of the 19th century by Turkish Muslim immigrants from Crete and saw a building boom during the 20th century, thanks to the rise of tourism in the Antalya region.

It was that uncontrolled building which covered up much of the ruins of ancient Side, including the synagogue, which was found beneath an old house.

Alanyali hopes that when more structures in Side are removed over the next 4 to 5 years that its ancient ruins, including the synagogue, will be intertwined with the town’s infrastructure like they are in other ancient cities such as Rome.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments