A group of students taking a class on the history of early Jewish villages in northern Israel became part of the story they were studying last week after stumbling across a 1,500-year-old carved lioness sculpture that likely adorned an ancient synagogue.

Prof. Mordechai Aviam of the Kinneret Academic College on the Sea of Galilee was leading 23 masters students on a three-day practicum called “The Jewish Village in the Golan and Galilee in Antiquity” on March 1 when they discovered the carving.

They were hiking around northern villages, and Aviam wanted the students to apply what they’d learned over the past few days.

At an ancient synagogue in Ein Nashut near the modern town of Katzrin, Aviam told the students to wander through the site on their own. The site was excavated in the 1990s by Prof. Zvi Maoz, also of the Kinneret College.

“It’s a small Jewish village on a little hill, and right now it’s surrounded by green and so beautiful,” Aviam said. “I told them, go out on your own to the site, identify the walls and buildings, write down some remarks, take photos, and come back after half an hour.”

When the students returned and shared their findings, students Zvia Dahan and Michael Benish said they had seen a stone carved like a lioness.

“I said immediately, ‘What? Why didn’t you bring it?’ They said, ‘It’s really heavy.’”

When they showed Aviam a photo of the carving, he knew immediately it was something special. In previous expeditions, archaeologists discovered eight fragments of carvings of lions or lionesses at the site, but this was the largest and most complete specimen discovered recently.

Read more at Times of Israel

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This year, we want to do more to bless Israel and the Jewish people.

We know that as we bless Israel this year, God will bless us, just as He promised in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Now is the time to bless Israel and the Jewish people.