Exhibitions/ Art Object

Fragment with Dedicatory Inscription

5th–7th century
Made in Israel, found at Ashkelon
Overall: 10 1/4 x 11 7/16 in. (26 x 29 cm)
Credit Line:
Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités Orientales, Paris (AO 1274)
Not on view
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."
Inscription: [In Aramaic:] . . . each and every one . . . / of heaven and . . . /. . .sh.t.l.m . . .
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.