Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ostia Antica - The Synagogue

If you take my advice and head way out to the far end of the Ostia Antica site you will find something rather interesting.




Way off at the farthest end of the site, on what was once sea coast but now is next to a busy highway, you will find Europe's oldest Synagogue.

Here is the focal point, a curved room facing Jerusalem.  Within it was kept the Aron, a cabinet that contained the Torah.



Looking up into the brilliant blue sky you see a menorah image.


Other parts of the complex had specific functions.  If I read the signage correctly this was the kitchen where unleavened bread was prepared.



The Synagogue is old, dating back to the middle of the First Century AD.  It was in use for a very long time, having an extensive rehab in the Third Century.  It is one of the later sites excavated at Ostia, only being discovered in 1961.

The more recent history of Judaism in Europe is of course largely tragic.  While the Jews of Italy fared significantly better than most such communities during the Second World War they had many losses.

So perhaps the red poppies that grow in particular abundance around this structure are a silent and accidental memorial.


2 comments:

David Goldwater said...

Right in the far corner, Tim....very nice piece

Borepatch said...

Wow. I had not known that.

I love these posts