6th century CE mosaic of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, surrounded by the signs of the zodiac. From the Beth Alpha synagogue near Beit She’an, Israel.

If you find this combination of subject and location a bit confusing, you’re not alone. This is not the only depiction of the Sun god and the zodiac that has been found in an ancient synagogue. Scholarly speculation about the significance of these images ranges from symbols of divine order, to representation of a minor deity to whom members of the congregation might have addressed prayers.

Reference: Ancient Mosaic Pavements: Themes, Issues, and Trends: Selected Studies by Rachel Hachlili, 2009.

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