Ancient synagogue revealed in Turkish resort town

i24NEWS

3 min read
Tourists ride their bicycles in front of an ancient site in Antalya, southern Turkey, on June 20, 2021.
AP Photo/Emrah GurelTourists ride their bicycles in front of an ancient site in Antalya, southern Turkey, on June 20, 2021.

Among the remains was a plaque portraying a menorah motif and an inscription in Hebrew and Greek

Remains of an ancient synagogue dating back as far as the 7th century were recently discovered in a resort town off Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

The synagogue was revealed in the town of Side in southern Turkey, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.

Among the remains was a plaque portraying a menorah motif and an inscription in Hebrew and Greek noting that it was donated by a father in honor of his son who died at a young age.

The plaque ends with the Hebrew word “Shalom,” which is a greeting word meaning “peace.”

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Side was home to Jews for centuries, but there was little evidence of Jewish life beyond a few records from the late Byzantine era until this discovery.

Turkish authorities and the town’s residents have worked together since 2014 to preserve some of its history.

When such efforts were initiated, it marked “a turning point for Side in terms of research and conservation,” said Feristah Alanyali, the archaeologist leading the excavations, Turkish-Jewish news outlet Avlaremoz reported.

In ancient times, Side was an important Mediterranean port city, adopting Greek culture after its conquest by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE.

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It was abandoned in the 12th century after the conquest of the Anatolian peninsula by the Seljuk Turks, JTA reported.

By the end of the 19th century, the town was repopulated by Turkish Muslim immigrants from Greece’s Crete island, and experienced a building surge during the 20th century.

Today, Side is a popular destination for Russian and European tourists, and further removal of structures is hoped to intertwine its ancient ruins, including the synagogue, with its infrastructure.