The ancient Jewish town of Kursi existed only in folklore, but archaeologists have now turned its existence into fact after uncovering new evidence.

Israeli archaeologists from Haifa University discovered a rare and large marble slab with ancient Hebrew writing on Wednesday, which shed light on an old historical mystery. The slab has been dated to approximately 500 A.D. and was found at the site of a 1,500 year-old village, now considered to be the Biblical Kursi.

The discovery was made on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret), in the vicinity of the Kursi National Park, where a Byzantine monastery once stood. According to the New Testament, this is the site where Jesus performed one of his miracles.

“This is the first indication that there was a Jewish village on this spot, and it reinforces the theory, so far held in folklore, that this is the town of Kursi where Jesus performed the ‘Miracle of the Swine,’” said Professor Michal Artzy, who manages the archaeological dig for the Haifa University.

According to the Haifa University Department of Archaeology, the site was made accessible only recently, with the receding of the Kinneret’s water line.

Sea of Galilee

The area in which the slab was discovered. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

“The marble slab was found at the entrance to an inner chamber of what seems to be an ancient synagogue, and is the only inscribed slab of this kind ever to be found in Israel,” said Professor Artzy.

“All other inscriptions found in Israel are made of mosaic and contain at best a few Hebrew words. This is the only one ever found etched in marble and containing such elaborate phrasing,” explained Artzy.

The marble material itself has been identified as non-native to ancient Judea and the Galilee, and is therefore assumed by the archaeologists to have been commissioned from Greece, suggesting that the village that existed there was a thriving community.

Haifa University experts are working on deciphering the scripture on the slab, which they said is in Aramaic but written in Hebrew letters. So far, two words have been positively identified, “Amen” and “Marmaria.”

By: Michael Zeff/TPS

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