Tzippori, or Sepphoris has a number of major similarities to Magdala. One, it was not on our original itinerary and it should have been. Two, the ruins were found “accidentally.” In the case of Magdala, an archeological test was done in advance of the construction of a hotel on the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. One of the most astounding finds at Tzippori was discovered in 1993 when the building of a parking lot for a previously developed archeological park revealed the stunning mosaics on the floor of a 5th Century BCE Jewish Synagogue. More on this below..
Excavations revealed that Tzippori had a Roman theater that held over 4,000 people, Herod’s palace, a fortified city wall for protection, multiple synagogues, bathhouses, churches, aqueducts, a massive reservoir, a marketplace, and residential areas alongside a colonnaded stone-paved street…with wagon wheel grooves still etched in them:
Magdala and Tzippori were also both cities intimately connected to Jesus. Magdala’s importance was discussed in a previous post – you can read about here. Tzippori was not only the home of Mary’s parents but Joseph most likely traveled there from nearby Nazareth to ply his trades as a carpenter and stonemason to help rebuild Tzippori which had been burned down when Rome thwarted the Jewish takeover there following King Herod’s death.
If this is not enough to prove Tzippori’s historical worth, let me offer this additional fact: some of the best mosaics in all of Israel are found in Tzippori, which is also known as The Mosaic City. Here are some of the most vivid:.
Nile House – The Nile House Mosaic floor is lush with wildlife as is exhibited in the photo at the top of this post as well as the following:
Dionysus House – Dionysus was the Greek God of wine and revelry and the mosaics in this house depict not only Dionysus but also Hercules in the midst of losing a drinking contest:
The highlight of the mosaics in the Dionysus House is The Mona Lisa Mosaic and I must say she is most beautiful;
The most surprising Tzippori find is the ancient synagogue mentioned at the beginning of this post. This is what the synagogue looks like today, from the internet:
The synagogue’s mosaics include: Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, menorahs, an elaborate Zodiac wheel with the sun god Helios in his chariot surrounded by human figures and the names of the months:
Today Jewish synagogues do not have any kind of images or pictorial representations of any form so the discovery of these stunning mosaics give us an amazing look into the past when these images were considered acceptable.
It is hard to believe that these mosaics were created in the 5th Century – they are still so alive and they give us a window into life of the citizens of Zippori. Thanks again, Moody for bringing us to this city.