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ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF THE SYNAGOGUE-BASILICA

Petit Futé's opinion on ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF THE SYNAGOGUE-BASILICA

Plate millesim 2022

This small archaeological site (Sinagoga dhe Bazilika Onhezmi) is wedged between buildings in the city center. It houses the remains of an amazing complex mixing a synagogue and a Christian basilica. These were discovered during urban planning work in 1978. On the spot, a map shows the location of the different buildings. The synagogue indicated to the west corresponds to the first Jewish place of worship created at the time of the establishment of a Hebrew community in the Byzantine city of Anchiasmos (present-day Saranda) in the 2nd century A.D. It consists of a small prayer hall and annexed rooms whose pavement included a mosaic representing a seven-branched candlestick. A second, larger synagogue was built to the north-east around the 4th-5th century. It follows a basilica plan with a rectangular prayer room with three naves. In the 6th century, it was transformed into a Christian church. The Jewish mosaics were then replaced by Greek inscriptions and paleochristian mosaics (birds, geometric symbols, etc.). Finally, the complex seems to have been destroyed around 580-588, during the incursions of the Avars and Slavs. The site is important for researchers: it allows them to understand how Christianity developed here from a Jewish community. The mosaics uncovered on the site are covered with gravel for their protection. But one of them is exposed in the archaeological museum, located nearby.

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