The recent excavations of Sardis unearthed the most impressive ancient synagogue yet discovered outside Palestine. The discovery of the Sardis synagogue was highly significant, as it reversed previous assumptions about Judaism in the later Roman empire.
The Sardis Synagogue provides evidence for the continued vitality of Jewish communities in Asia Minor, their integration into general Roman imperial civic life, and their size and importance at a time when many scholars previously assumed that Christianity had eclipsed Judaism.
The synagogue discovered at Sardis dates from the 3rd century AD. At that time, the Jewish community was wealthy and Jews held seats on the city council and important offices in the Roman civil administration.
Much of the funding for restoration of the Sardis synagogue came from American Jewish individuals, congregations and philanthropies.
Visitors to the site approach the synagogue along the Marble Way, a main street lined with shops, many of which were owned by Jewish merchants and artisans, as signs indicate.
The ruins of the synagogue include splendid mosaic floors, some walls and columns, and over 80 Greek and seven Hebrew inscriptions.
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