Courtesy Archaeological Exploration of Sardis

The reconstructed bath-gymnasium dominates the center of Byzantine Sardis, a site not far from Ephesus in modern Turkey. A major city for nearly a millennium, Sardis was destroyed by a fire around 640 C.E., in the early Byzantine period. Sardis’s ruins revealed previously unsuspected evidence that—despite the anti-Semitism expressed in a great deal of Byzantine literature, law and art—its large Christian and Jewish communities lived and worked side by side in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. Though a law forbade it at the time, the city’s synagogue, whose remains can be seen in the foreground of the photo, underwent repairs in the fifth century C.E. In the ruins of a long row of shops built along the southern walls of the synagogue and bath-gymnasium, numerous artifacts bearing crosses or menorahs were found, none of them deliberately damaged.