Concordia St. Paul prof makes major dig discovery
A fresco fragment recovered by a team of excavators under the direction of Concordia University, St. Paul’s Dr. Mark Schuler at the Hippos of the Decapolis dig site in northeast Israel has been approved for display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The inclusion of the fresco in the Israel Museum’s Archaeological Collection, which houses the most important archeological finds in Israel, attests to the input made by the Concordia team at Hippos over the past 11 years. Ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums with nearly 500,000 items in its collection, the museum features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world.
Discovered in 2010, the wall painting of Tyche is the only fresco of the Greek goddess of fortune uncovered in Israel to date. Tyche was a prominent deity for the residents of Hippos, an ancient city on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The fresco of the mythical figure is believed to date to the end of the Roman period or the beginning of the Byzantine period, around 300-400 AD.
“This realistic portrayal of Tyche gazing off to the left is a stunning fresco and an important contribution to archaeological understanding of Hippos of the Decapolis as a typical Greek polis.” said Schuler, director of the Northeast Insula Project at Hippos.
Now known as Sussita, Hippos was a prominent city of the Golan during the Hellenistic and Roman/Byzantine periods. During the Byzantine period there were eight churches in the city, making it the largest Christian center on the Sea of Galilee. Hippos was devastated by a massive earthquake in 749 AD, leaving the city in ruins. The site is now part of the present-day Sussita National Park.
Concordia University is a partner with the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa in the excavation at Hippos, under the current direction of Dr. Michael Eisenberg. Schuler, professor of Theology and Greek at Concordia, has been guiding volunteers and students at the Hippos site since 2002.
“Concordia University looks forward to making further contributions to the archaeological understanding of the Galilee and the Golan in coming years,” Schuler said.