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Fragment with Dedicatory Inscription

Date:
5th–7th century
Geography:
Made in Israel, found at Ashkelon
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
Overall: 10 1/4 x 11 7/16 in. (26 x 29 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités Orientales, Paris (AO 1274)
  • Description

    The Synagogue at Ashkelon
    During the Byzantine period, the synagogue was constructed to promote an atmosphere of sanctity and was often referred to as "the holy place." It featured wall inscriptions and intricately carved reliefs as well as a chancel screen. An innovation adopted from Christian contexts and seen in many synagogues from this period, the screen separated the Holy Ark housing the Torah scrolls, the most sacred part of the synagogue, from the rest of the hall. Fragments of the Ashkelon Synagogue were discovered during the nineteenth century, though no complete structure has ever been excavated.
    This fragment, rendered in square Hebrew calligraphy, constituted part of a larger dedicatory inscription in Aramaic on the synagogue’s wall. Aramaic was the vernacular language of Jews in Palestine, even in predominantly Greek-speaking cities such as Ashkelon. The second line likely referred to the synagogue as "The place of the Master of Heaven."

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: [In Aramaic:] . . . each and every one . . . / of heaven and . . . /. . .sh.t.l.m . . .

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