Archaeologists Found One of the Oldest Synagogues in the World in the Krasnodar Territory

Синагога I века н. э. Фото: фонд «Вольное дело»

The participants of the Phanagoria archaeological expedition discovered the foundation and contours of the walls of a synagogue built at the turn of millennia that had existed for at least 500 years on the Taman peninsula. It is the oldest in Russia and one of the oldest religious buildings of this type in the world.

“Ritual marble seven-branched candelabra (menorahs), tables for liturgies, and fragments of marble steles – one of which contains the ancient Greek inscription ‘synagogue’ – were found inside the building. The finds of the past years – the marble tablets ‘house of prayer’ and ‘synagogue’ – are dated 16 and 51 A.D.,” commented the Oleg Deripaska’s foundation "Volnoe Delo", which supports the activities of the expedition.


Артефакты, найденные при раскопках. Фото: фонд «Вольное дело»

The rectangular building of the Phanagoria synagogue consists of two rooms of 60 m2. It functioned from 516 BC to 70 AD, which is considered the era of the Second Temple. Then synagogues were rare and were built by representatives of Jews if such diasporas lived far from Jerusalem. According to historians, at that time Jews made up a significant part of the population of the city of Phanagoria, and the Byzantine chroniclers called the city Jewish.

“The synagogue was richly decorated. Its walls were painted and tiled, the roof was tiled. The ornaments of the marble menorahs found in the temple are unique and differ from those of the Middle East. The synagogue of Phanagoria existed until the middle of the 6th century, when during the attack of barbarian tribes the city was looted and all the buildings were burned,” the foundation added.

Taman is one of the 14 cities of the Krasnodar Territory, Rostov Region, the Republic of Crimea, and Sevastopol, united by the large-scale project of the Russian Geographical Society "The Golden Ring of the Bosporan Kingdom". The route "Wine Roads of the Bosporan Kingdom" includes 27 wineries of the regions where monuments of ancient culture have been preserved or museums dedicated the history of winemaking operate. You can learn more about the project, choose places to visit, and make a travel itinerary on the website . The locations of the Russian tourist route "The Golden Ring of the Bosporan Kingdom" were visited by 1,516,459 people in 2022.

We would like to remind you that in the spring of this year, as a result of archaeological excavations on the territory of Anapa, two ancient city streets were discovered. According to experts, they existed from the first half or the middle of the 4th century BC until the destruction of the Gorgippia settlement in the middle of the 3rd century AD. Scientists have identified at least nine manor complexes with basements, courtyards, and ground rooms. Among them are four wineries. The Krasnodar Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society proposes to create an open-air museum at the excavation site, which will be included in the tourist project "The Golden Ring of the Bosporan Kingdom".