‘En Nashut

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Dates Excavated:



Zvi Uri Ma’oz

Archaeological Information: Stratum II [671]

Date of Building Construction:

around 475 CE [672]

Place of Building in Settlement:
At the edge of the site, on its northwestern slope, near a circular structure built over the spring. [673]

Building Description:
A basilical synagogue with two rows of three columns. The main entrance to the building was in the short south wall, and a smaller door at the southern end of the east wall was discovered leading to an eastern annex room. A small, covered portico to the south of the building might have been built at a later stage. This portico was paved with fine ashlars. [674] The synagogue features numerous animal sculptures, and Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew dedicatory inscriptions were found on plaster and architectural features inside the building. Along all the walls were three tiers of benches. Next to the south wall, an impression in the floor and a stone step indicate the location of a platform. The building had a plaster floor with a bedding of basalt gravel mixed with plaster. The building was robbed of its architectural elements after it went out of use so that especially the south side is hard to reconstruct.

Maps and Plans

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First Deposit

Date Excavated: 1978

Deposit Location:

Under the paving outside the threshold of the main entrance to the synagogue; south of the southern wall of the building (in the portico). [682]

Archaeological Information:

Locus 109, south of W1, stratum IIB (Baskets 1070, 1070/2, 1070/3, 1047, 1053, 1135, and 1136. [675]

Certain association with the building itself? Yes (?)

Deposit Retrievable? No

Deposit Type: IIB6

Deposit Description:

193 coins were found during official excavations under the pavement in front of the south, main entrance to the synagogue (in the portico area). The locus was identified as a “robber’s pit”: robbers supposedly had destroyed a large section of this pavement and created a pit measuring 3.50 X 1.65 meters and 1.00 meters deep.[676] The coins were mostly found during sifting and had been scattered around the width and depth of the pit. According to Ariel and Ahipaz, another 224 coins were found and retrieved from this same pit by Sami Bar-Lev and Muni Ben-Ari during their visit to the site in 1970 (cf. fn. 673).[677] Last, local inhabitants of the Kibbutz Merom Golan visited the site between 1970 and 1978 and removed hundreds of small coins from this pit.[678] In total, about 500 coins eventually made their way to the Israel Antiquities Authority, where they are stored today.[679] It is important to note, however, that the excavators did not remove any additional pavement stones from the portico beyond this pit. Thus, many more coins might still be in situ under the rest of the portico floor.

Container Present? No [680]

Description of Coins:
115 identifiable bronze coins from this locus were published by Ariel in 1987 and by Ariel and Ahipaz in an updated report in 2010. According to them, the deposit ranges between 307 CE and 423 CE (Constantinian dynasty). The latest coin could be dated to the emperor Honorius (408-423 CE). However, after going through the IAA database, 186 identified coins were found as coming from ‘En Nashut, Locus 109.[681] It is unclear why not all these coins have been published in the final report or why there are so many discrepancies between the published lists and the IAA database. It is also unclear what happened to the 317 coins that could not be found in the IAA database under Locus 109. After consultation with Ariel, for this project it was decided to follow the analysis of the coins according to the IAA information. The reader should thus use caution comparing this database to the original publications. Of the 186 identified coins, only 118 could be dated: they range from 330-335 CE (Constantine I) to 408-423 CE (Honorius I), with a majority minted under Theodosius I and Arcadius. Almost all the coins come from eastern mints, with the exception of a coin minted in Trier (337-341 CE, Constantius II) and two coins from Rome (341-346 CE, Constans I and 383-387 CE).

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Conspectus Table:

Conspectus table 'En Nashut, Deposit 1. This table can be seen in full screen by clicking the icon on the bottom right. For more details on the specific coins in each row, please hover over the numbers.

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Second Deposit

Date Excavated: 1979

Deposit Location:

Next to the foundations of the room west of the synagogue, adjacent to wall 4 on its northern exposed edge. [682]

Archaeological Information:

Locus 133, west of W4, end of stratum III or beginning stratum II (Baskets 1164, 1164/5)

Certain association with the building itself? No

Deposit Retrievable? Unknown

Deposit Type: II?6

Deposit Description:

Outside the western wall of the synagogue, on the south side, the foundations of three walls were recovered: W2, W3, and W4. The axis of W4 was diagonal to the synagogue’s western wall (W8). The synagogue wall 8 itself was missing in this area and therefore there is no visible connection between W4 and the synagogue building. However, the masonry of W4 is different from that of the synagogue, as is its orientation. The excavators thus believe that the three walls represent a small structure that stood here before the synagogue was constructed.[683] This room was not sealed, but was “covered by a robbers’ dump of about 1.5 meters high.”[684] West of W4, a trench was dug on the northern edge (Locus 133). In this locus, a deposit of 51 coins was discovered. It is unclear if this deposit can be connected to the synagogue. It is possible that the structure to the west was a side room or shed used at the same time as the synagogue (see footnote 682).[685]

Container Present? No

Description of Coins:
34 identifiable bronze coins from this locus were published by Ariel in 1987 and by Ariel and Ahipaz in an updated report in 2010. According to them, the deposit ranged between the third century CE and 425-450 CE (Theodosius II or Valentinian III). However, the IAA database revealed 42 coins coming from ‘En Nashut, Locus 133. It is unclear why not all coins were published in the final excavation report. Of the 42 coins at the IAA, 32 could be dated. They range from 341-346 CE (Constantius II) to 425-450 CE. Most coins come from eastern mints, but some coins were minted in Rome and Trier, and one in Arles. Thus, both in chronology and minting places, this deposit found in a room next to the synagogue follows the deposit found just outside the threshold of the synagogue main entrance. The “100-300 CE” coin published by Ariel could not be found at the IAA. According to the publication, the coin depicts a hexastyle temple on the reverse side, but no precise date or emperor could be given. The coin has been included in this project, but the reader should be aware that its current location is unknown.

Conspectus Table:

Conspectus table 'En Nashut, Deposit 2. This table can be seen in full screen by clicking the icon on the bottom right. For more details on the specific coins in each row, please hover over the numbers.

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– Hüttenmeister F. & Reeg G., 1977, Die Antiken Synagogen in Israel, 2 vols., Wiesbaden: L. Reichert, pp. 114-115
– Ma’oz Z., 1979, “’En Nashut (Golan),” in: Hadashot Arkheologiyot, Vol. 69-71, pp. 27-29 (Hebrew)
– Chiat M., 1982, Handbook of Synagogue Architecture, Chico: Scholars Press, p. 276
– Ariel D.T., 1987, “Coins from the Synagogue at ‘En Nashut,” in: Israel Exploartion Journal, Vol. 37, pp. 147-157
– Ma’oz Z., 1988, “Ancient Synagogues of the Golan,” in: Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 51, No. 2, pp. 121-124
– Ilan Z., 1991, Ancient Synagogues in Israel, Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defence, pp. 101-102 (Hebrew)
– Ma’oz z., 1993, “En Nashut,” in: NEAEHL, pp. 412-414
– Ma’oz Z., 1995, Ancient Synagogues in the Golan, Art and Architecture, Qazrin: Golan Archaeological Museum, pp. 73-104 (Hebrew)
– Urman D., 1995, “Public Structures and Jewish Communities in the Golan Heights,” in: Urman D. & Flesher P. (eds.), Ancient synagogues: Historical analysis and Archaeological discovery, Vol. 2, Leiden: Brill, pp. 439-447
– Dauphin C. 1998, La Palestine Byzantine: Peuplement et Population, Oxford, Vol. 3, p. 531
– Milson D., 2007, Art and Architecture of the Synagogue in Late Antique Palestine: in the Shadow of the Church, Leiden/Boston, pp. 346-347
– Ma’oz Z., 2010, En Nashut: the Art and Architecture of a Synagogue in the Golan, Qazrin: Archaostyle
– Spigel C., 2012, Ancient Synagogue Seating Capacities: Methodology, Analysis and Limits, Mohr Siebeck, pp. 191-194
– Hachlili R., 2013, Ancient Synagogues: Archaeology and Art: New Discoveries and Current Research, Leiden: Brill, pp. 112, 113-114, 159-160, 177-178, 545-546, 597
– Ahipaz N., 2015, The Custom of the Ritual Burial of Coins in Synagogues, MA thesis, pp. 39-42 (Hebrew)


– The Bornblum Eretz Israel Synagogues Website:
– Israel Antiquities Authority:


[671] Consists of Stratum II(B), the construction of the synagogue in the 5th century, and Stratum IIA, modifications to the synagogue, possibly in the 6th century. For a full architectural overview, see Ma’oz 2010, pp. 26-49.

[672] Ma’oz 2010. In earlier publications Ma’oz preferred a construction date of the mid-5th century based on the coins found in probes below the floor level (Ma’oz 1988 and 1993). However, if some of the youngest coins found in the hoards can indeed be dated to 425-450 CE and even 474-491 CE (see below), then a construction terminus post quem date of 475 CE, as he states in later publications, seems more likely. Urman 1995 p. 443 disputes these late dates: “perhaps the structure at ‘Ein Nashot was built at an early period — second, third, or fourth century C.E. — and in the fifth century was restored or had its floor replaced.” However, this interpretation would also mean that the southern pavement with its floor slabs must have been added to the building only in the 5th century (based on the youngest coins found in Locus 109, see below) and that the room to the west of the building, in which coins dated to the 5th century have been found next to the foundations (see below), was built later than the synagogue building, and not earlier. I would agree that a terminus post-quem of 475 CE is correct.

[673] Ma’oz 1993, p. 412. The site was first identified as a synagogue by Sami Bar-Lev and Moshe Hartal in 1971, who were members of the “Villages Survey” headed by Dan Urman. According to Zvi Ma’oz, the two returned to the site at some point and removed around 270 coins from a pit (which was later labeled Locus 109) and gave them to the Department of Antiquities (Ma’oz 2010, pp. 14-15).

[674] Ma’oz 1993, p. 413.

[675] Every day, the excavators made a new Basket as more and more coins popped up.

[676] In the pit, pieces of plastic were found, which indicated to the excavators that the robber’s pit was modern, possibly from the 1960s (personal communication Zvi Ma’oz).

[677]Ariel and Ahipaz, 2010, p. 138; Ahipaz 2015, p. 40. Bar Lev and Ben-Ari were Staff Officers for Archaeology for the State of Israel. Unfortunately, they did not leave any records of their excavations, but handed the coins over to Donald Ariel in 1966-1977. Among these was one dated to Zeno (474-491 CE), which would push the construction of the pavement and thus the synagogue to 475 CE or later.

[678] The members of the kibbutz saw coins falling from the edges of the pit and collected them. As far as Ma’oz knows, all the coins were handed over to the IAA (personal communication). However, it is unknown how many more coins might have been removed by hikers, tourists, and other people passing by the site between 1971 and 1978.

[679] Ma’oz 2010, p. 15; Ariel and Ahipaz, 2010, p. 138; personal communication Donald Ariel.

[680] Ariel 1987, p. 151: “The deposit was not found in any preserved container. From their distribution, it seems likely that they did not come from some friable container which later disintegrated, but rather that they were deposited together during the construction of the synagogue.”

[681] According to Ariel, locus numbers were not always made for random coin finds on site, so the coins are probably in the IAA depot but the connection between coin and locus is lost. For example, a small bag of coins that did not have L109 written on it was given another unidentified registration number when the coins came in.

[682] Ma’oz 1988, pp. 25-26 and 124: he believes this room precedes the synagogue stratum II building and might have been part of an older synagogue construction. If this room is indeed older than the synagogue building of Stratum II, then this synagogue could not have been built earlier than the second half of the 5th century. The youngest coin in the Locus 133 hoard dates to 425-450 CE and the coins were found next to the foundations of the room: common sense dictates that the room would have stood in use for at least a little while before it was demolished to build the new synagogue. If the room was a small storage room or shed built against the wall of the stratum II synagogue from the outside, however, it would be younger than the synagogue building proper and this would push the date of the construction of this building to an earlier period. Ma’oz, however, believes this is not the case because of architectural arguments: the walls (W2, W3, and W4) are built out of fieldstones, as opposed to the ashlars of the synagogue building, and they stand in a diagonal angle against the western wall of the building (W8). Unfortunately, this room is not fully depicted on the published plan (only W3 has been drawn in), nor are there photographs of the walls. The exact relationship between the room and the synagogue is thus unclear.

[683] Ma’oz 2010, p. 25.

[684] See the notes of Ma’oz in the IAA archives, dated to April 28, 1980.

[685] During the excavations, probe pits were also made inside the synagogue building, mainly in spots where the plaster floor or parts of the benches were missing, usually because of stone robbing. Although some coins were found in those areas, no clusters could be discerned which would count as coin deposits (this could of course be explained by robbers taking any coins that they encountered). No metal detector was used on site to search for more coin groups and it is possible that more deposits are still in situ (Ahipaz 2015, pp. 41-42).