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Local Students Uncover Jewish Relics

 Three Lowcountry Wofford College students part of international archaeological dig 

TyrellJemision 

Tyrell Jemison of North Charleston is pictured here. An international team of
students and scholars from Leiden University in Holland, the University of Bern
in Switzerland, the University of Helsinki in Finland and Wofford College has
uncovered a unique combination of synagogue features from the Byzantine period
during excavations on Horvat Kur in the Lower Galilee region of Israel.

 Goose Creek Patch
Published July 17, 2012
 

Three Charleston-area Wofford College students are part of a team that has uncovered archaeological relics in Israel dating back to the 15th century.

Tyrell Jemison of North Charleston, Nicholas Lowe of Charleston and Rob Levin of Mount Pleasant were part of a six-student team from Wofford that unearthed a basalt stone table and household pottery in Horvat Kur, Galilee, according to a school news release.

Students and scholars from Leiden University in Holland, the University of Bern in Switzerland, the University of Helsinki in Finland and Wofford College uncovered the unique combination of synagogue features from the Byzantine period during excavations

"These finds are a substantial step forward in what we know of ancient synagogues," said Byron R. McCane, the Albert Outler Professor of Religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Wofford. "These are items that have not been found before."

All told, 26 students from around the globe participated. Read more about the expedition on Wofford.edu.

The finds demonstrate the importance of the synagogue as a center of religious and community life, according to a school news release.

The most "spectacular" object unearthed is a basalt stone, shaped like a low table and decorated with figurative elements on one side and geometric patterns on the other three sides, according to the international team of excavators.

In addition, in a cistern near the synagogue, a wide array of intact late Roman/early Byzantine household pottery also was found, including many types that had never before been found complete.

James A. Ballard of Spartanburg, who graduated from Wofford in May, supervised the excavation of the household pottery while Thomas E. Tafel of Columbia, S.C., who also graduated in May, assisted in the excavation of the table. They are among six Wofford students who participated in the five-week dig that occurred from mid-June through last week.