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Umm el Kanatir
Umm el Kanatir
|Location 32.8525126, 35.7376181|
|City Golan Heights|
|Open to visitors yes|
|Need appointment no|
|Handicap accessibility no|
|Geographical Coordinates 32.84956,35.73796|
Um el Kanatir (Umm el-Kanater) (Umm al-Qanāṭir) (ام القناطر) (Hebrew: אם הקשתות) (lit. "mother of the arches") is an archaeological site in the Golan Heights. Archaeological excavations have revealed a Roman-era Jewish city and synagogue.
History and time period
The name was given by Arab shepherds who continued to make use of the sites water source, a spring that pours from the face of a cliff into three basins carved of stone in antiquity. Each of the basins was surmounted by a Roman monumental arch of cut basalt. It is assumed that the niches between the arches originally held pagan images of the spirit of the waters. Two of the arches are now in ruins, but one survives intact. They, and the village site, continued to be used into the modern period not as a town but by small numbers of local farmers and shepherds living amid and atop the ruins of the ancient town, sometimes in homes constructed out of ancient blocks of building stone reconstructed into farm houses. The abundant, clean, spring water was the reason for the village's ancient industrial specialization in the production of fine, white linen cloth. The villagers also engaged in mixed farming, and raised sheep and olives. It is believed that the income generated by the linen industry enabled the villagers to construct the very large sixth-century synagogue. Interestingly, the synagogue appears to have been built on the site of a more modest, fifth century synagogue. The large synagogue was destroyed the catastrophic Golan earthquake of 749. No remains of a Roman temple, church, or mosque have been uncovered. The synagogue building was 18 meters (60 feet) long by 13 meters (43 feet) wide and calculated to have been 12 meters (40 feet) high, making it one of the largest ancient synagogues in the region. Neither the synagogue nor the town were rebuilt after the earthquake of 749. The synagogue was first identified by Laurence Oliphant and Gottlieb Schumacher in 1884. The surviving elements of the ancient synagogue are now being is now being carefully reconstructed by engineer Yeshu Drei and archaeologist Haim Ben-David of the Kinneret Academic College and Bar-Ilan University. The two arches have been dubbed Rehavam Arcs after Rehavam Zeevi.