Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Goddess of fortune' found near shores of Sea of Galilee

Date:
September 17, 2010
Source:
University of Haifa
Summary:
A wall painting (fresco) of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune, was exposed during the 11th season of excavation at the Sussita site, on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee. Another female figure was found during this season, of a maenad, one of the companions of the wine god Dionysus.

Head of Tyche, goddess of fortune, on the fresco.
Credit: Sussita Expedition

A wall painting (fresco) of Tyche, the Greek goddess of fortune, was exposed during the 11th season of excavation at the Sussita site, on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was conducted by researchers of the University of Haifa. Another female figure was found during this season, of a maenad, one of the companions of the wine god Dionysus.

"It is interesting to see that although the private residence in which two goddesses were found was in existence during the Byzantine period, when Christianity negated and eradicated idolatrous cults, one can still find clear evidence of earlier beliefs," said Prof. Arthur Segal and Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, who headed the excavation.

The city of Sussita is located within the Sussita National Park under the management of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which has accompanied and assisted the excavation teams this season in enabling the continuation of excavation work and the conservation of the archaeological finds.

During the course of the excavations conducted by the team from the University of Concordia under the direction of Prof. Mark Schuler, in a residence that appeared, by the quality and complexity of its construction, to belong to one of the city notables, the excavators reached an inner courtyard with a small fountain at its center. Near the fountain they found a fresco of Tyche, who was apparently deified as the city's goddess of fortune. Her head is crowned, her youthful gaze is focused, and she has abundant brown hair beneath her crown. According to the researchers, artistic analysis has indicated that the wall painting may be dated to the end of the Roman period or the beginning of the Byzantine period (3rd-4th centuries C.E.).

The goddess Tyche was not the only mythological figure to be discovered in this compound. Found on a bone plate was a wonderfully etched relief of a maenad, one of a group of female followers of Dionysus, the god of wine. According to Greek mythology, the maenads accompanied Dionysus with frenzied dances while holding a thyrsus, a device symbolizing sexuality, fertility, and the male sexual organ associated with sexual pleasure. The maenad of Sussita was also depicted as being in the midst of a frenzied dance. The researchers believe that both manifestations of the cult of Graeco-Roman female goddesses can be dated to the end of the Roman period, but there is no doubt that the residence in which they were found continued to exist even after Christianity triumphed over idolatry.

In this season the city's Roman period basilica (1st-2nd centuries CE) began to be exposed. This is a large-sized building that incorporated the city's central commercial, social and judicial areas. Besides the excellent architectural marble items that were unearthed there, the researchers also found decorations made of "stucco," molded plaster used in the imitation of marble. "We could not fail to wonder how a relatively plebeian city could employ first-class builders and artisans. The stucco decorations demonstrate that despite everything, the city rulers were certainly not sparing of the costs and expenditure of construction," the researchers noted.

Sussita was erected on a mountain top rising to the east of the Sea of Galilee during the 2nd century B.C.E. by the Seleucid rulers who then controlled the country. The city existed during the Hellenist, Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods, until it was destroyed by a violent earthquake in the year 749 C.E. Together with Beth Shean and other cities on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, Sussita was one of the cultural-geographical group of Decapolis cities -- a region within which Jesus conducted some of the miracles described in the New Testament.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Haifa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Haifa. "'Goddess of fortune' found near shores of Sea of Galilee." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100916100503.htm>.
University of Haifa. (2010, September 17). 'Goddess of fortune' found near shores of Sea of Galilee. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100916100503.htm
University of Haifa. "'Goddess of fortune' found near shores of Sea of Galilee." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100916100503.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

AP (July 18, 2014) — Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Aldrin described what he was thinking right before the historic walk. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins