Alexander keeps surfacing from the strangest of places, a proof – if needed – that the world has not forgotten him.
This thought came to me while reading an article about the latest excavations carried out in an ancient Jewish
village of Galilee,
and that in spite of the ongoing conflicts in the region. Archaeologists are in
the process of uncovering a stunning mosaic floor that belonged to a synagogue
at Huqoq dating from the fifth
After previously uncovered mosaics with biblical scenes, archaeologists have now come across images that do not fit that pattern. There is for instance a bull pierced by spears with next to him a dead soldier holding a shield, and another scene showing young men seated around an elderly man holding a scroll seen through an arcade topped with burning oil lamps. And then there is this mosaic depicting two bearded men. One wears a diadem and is clad in an elaborate battledress and a purple cloak while leading a large bull by the horns. He is accompanied by a phalanx of soldiers and a group of elephants with shields tied to their sides. This description alone triggers my imagination and I immediately think of Alexander, of course, for who else would be surrounded by a phalanx and elephants? In the mosaic he is met by a grey-haired elderly man in a white ceremonial tunic and mantle, followed by young men with sheathed swords wearing the same outfit.
It is evident that no elephants are involved in any of the bible stories. Archaeologists confirm that battle elephants are automatically associated with Greek armies ever since Alexander the Great. They now concluded that this might be a scene from a Jewish legend in which Alexander is meeting a Jewish high priest. It may be tied to Alexander’s speculative visit to
that is mentioned by Flavius Josephus
and apparently also in some rabbinic literature. Something worth investigating! Jerusalem
The article, unfortunately, does not show any picture of this stunning mosaic floor (luckily moved from the site for conservation) except for the head of what could be Alexander.