The synagogue building is a square basilica, oriented from north-west to south-east, composed of a central nave flanked by three oblong aisles. The aisles are separated by three rows of pillars, one aisle to the west of the nave and two to its east. The entrance to the synagogue was through three openings situated in the northern wall. The floor was paved with mosaics. An additional hall is attached to the basilica at the southeast. The hall is divided into four small rooms. The second room from the west had an opening to the nave from which steps led to this room. According to the archeological finds the date of the synagogue is at the begining of the fourth century C.E.
Hammath Tiberias Synagogue | Unknown
Synagogue active dates
Documentation / Research project
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Languages of inscription
Type of grave
Number of Lines
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Summary and Remarks
The remains of Hammath-Tiberias extend from the hot springs to the southern boundary of ancient Tiberias. The Bible and the Talmud mention Hammath as one of the fortified cities of Naftali (Joshua 19:35, B.T. Megillah 1,70) and as one of the Levites' cities (Joshua 21:32, Chronicles I, 6:61). Hammath is mentioned several times in the Mishna and in the Talmud. According to R. Johanan the place was called Hammath after the hot springs (Hamme) of Tiberias (B.T. Megillah 6a). Tiberias and Hammath were originally two separate cities each surrounded by its own wall (B.T. Megillah 2b) but they were subsequently united into one city, apparently in the first century C.E. (Tosefta Erubin 7:2). R. Meir used to preach in the synagogue of Hammath every Saturday night (P.T. Sota,1:4). When Tiberias became a spiritual center and the seat of the Sanhedrin in the third century C.E., the suburb of Hammath shared its prominence. With the abolition of the Patriarchate in C.E. 429, Hammath began to decline, but it continued to exist as a city relying on its hot springs. The Jewish community remained in the city throughout the Arab period until its decline in the Middle Ages. Two excavations were carried out at the site. The first was under the direction of N. Slouschz on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Society and the Department of Antiquities (1921). The second excavation was undertaken under the direction of M. Dothan on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities (1961-1963). In the excavation four layers were discovered. In the two upper layers four superimposed synagogues were found. The construction of the synagogue went through four phases (layers IIa-b, Ia-b), beginning in the fourth century and ending in the middle of the eight century C.E.
Main Surveys & Excavations
Dothan, M., 1983, pp.27-31. Dothan, M., 1978, pp.1180-1184.
| G.W. 1993, N.S. 9.1994, D.D. & T.N. 10.1994.