Zippori (Sephorris) is my most favorite site in northern Israel. I’ve been here at least 4 or 5 times and every time there is something new to see as this is an active archaeological dig. Those of you taking ancient art history will see some of the images from Zippori in the Voice Thread entitled “Syncretism”. Just an update on Zippori if you are new to this, it is in the lower Galilee and is another important crossroads to the coast.
It includes Hellenistic, Jewish, Roman, Islamic, Crusader, Arabic and Ottoman evidence of habitation there. Let’s say it’s a treasure trove for archaeologists.
The Cardo main street from 63 BCE
Digging on either side of the Cardo probably preparing for the archaeology students who will come in the fall.
The grooves that you see in the stones are from carts going down the street.
Reproduction of one of the carts that would have traveled along the Cardo.
Zippori is famous for its mosaics and this is one I have not seen before adjacent to the road intersecting the Cardo.
Orpheus Mosaic was unearthed in 1995 and it dates to the end of the 3rd century CE. It shows scenes from daily life though is a good example of how syncretism works. If you want to interpret a work to suit your beliefs perhaps you might think this is a scene of baptism.
This shows how mosaics were found when excavated. They can be rolled on to a drum and taken for restoration as many of them have been at Zippori.
The Nile House contains some of the most detailed mosaics at Zippori.
The floors are wetted to show the vivid colors of the mosaics, made from natural stones and pieces of glass.
Just walking around you find these exquisite little gems of detailed mosaic.
Amazons, something new I learned- they are mythological female beings who cut off one breast so it would not get in the way of their weapons. These figures also remind me of Mithras, the Roman cult from the 2nd century.
The citadel which was established by Crusaders and then fortified by Arab invaders is at the top of the Zippori site.
A photo of early excavations at Zippori. The citadel/fortress was erected in the 12th century.
Inside the citadel you can still see the Byzantine arches that are both structural and decorative.
Looking out from the citadel you can see the “neighborhood” of houses. Archaeologists can tell a Jewish home from a Christian or Arab home from artifacts found in each one.
The famous Mona Lisa of the Galilee mosaic is part of a 54 square foot mosaic floor in the Dionysian House, probably the dining room. It is comprised of 1000s of tiny stones and glass.
This photo shows the beginning of restoration of the mosaic floor.
Mosaics even for the bathroom: this is an acrostic that says “To Health”. The rabbis who likely lived at Zippori taught “Who is wealthy? He who has a privy near his table”.
The synagogue has been identified by the elevated wall where the ark would be and the raised area called the bema (stage). Unusual here is that this one faces West instead of East.