Magdala was high on my list of places to revisit to see the changes taking place.
The town of Magdala is not mentioned in the Bible, but Mary Magdalene is mentioned a total of 12 times in the four gospels. This place may have been her birthplace or her home. A few late manuscripts mention Magdala (Matthew 15:39 KJV), but earlier manuscripts read Magadan. Magdala is located about 4 miles north of Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Josephus had his headquarters at Magdala during the first Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-70). He was able to get a group of at least 230 boats to go from Magdala to Tiberias (Jewish Wars 2.635-637). Vespasian attacked the town from the sea and destroyed it.
We first learned of the new excavation planned for Magdala in early 2008 (here). Then in September, 2009, we were able to report the discovery of a Second Temple period synagogue (here). For several years the area was not open to the public. Since that time great improvements have been made and the site is now open without an admission charge (but this may change).
The next photo shows the synagogue reading room.
An IAA report on the excavation (which we cited here) reports,
The main hall of synagogue is c. 120 square meters in area and its stone benches, which served as seats for the worshippers, were built up against the walls of the hall. Its floor was made of mosaic and its walls were treated with colored plaster (frescos).
The IAA report continues,
A square stone, the top and four sides of which are adorned with reliefs, was discovered in the hall. The stone is engraved with a seven-branched menorah set atop a pedestal with a triangular base, which is flanked on either side by an amphora (jars).
Did Jesus visit this synagogue? At this point we can not say for sure, but it is possible.
Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23 NET)
I think Magdala will become one of the most popular stops for Bible Study groups as they visit the Galilee area.