Located at the crossroads of the Galilee, ancient Magdala was a town known for its salted fish. It prospered in Hellenistic and Roman times, continued to be inhabited up to the Muslim conquest of the Holy Land. Yet, in the Western World culture, Magdala is mostly famous for being the hometown of Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ most devout female follower. On The Watchman show, Erick and I reviewed its special history, along with its modern research and development. Combined with filming on the following day at Mount Hermon, this was the last episode we produced before the COVID-19 became a pandemic.
Magdala’s ancient city center was excavated in the 1970s. However, to this day that area is not open to the public. On the other hand, Magdala’s northern end was developed in the early 21st century by the Catholic Church and proved to yield significant finds. The most famous was the discovery of a first century synagogue in 2009. It was designed like a Greek council hall (Buleterion) with its seats set around the center. A mosaic floor was laid over the isles, and some of its walls had traces of color decorations (Fresco). The most mysterious find was a decorated slab of stone, set in the middle of the building. Its function and the meaning of its symbols are a mystery to this day. The modern Catholic development in the northern end of Magdala includes a state-of-the-art church called Duc in Altum. In 2020, a chic hotel was also opened at the site.