GOLAN GEM. The Second Temple-period synagogue at Gamla features stepped benches along its walls and a mikveh (ritual bath) located just south of its entrance. Its focal point would have been the center of the room—rather than the Torah Shrine of later synagogues—because the Jerusalem Temple still stood while the Gamla synagogue was in use.
Located in the lower Golan east of the Sea of Galilee, Gamla was an important Zealot site during the First Jewish Revolt. It sat on a narrow, pointy spur that could be accessed only from the east, making the site easily defendable. Its strategic location near the main north-south road in the region connected the site to Mesopotamia in the north—providing the rebels a lifeline to the Jewish communities there. To sever this lifeline, the Romans attacked the site. It was no easy victory, but ultimately Vespasian and his legions defeated the Zealots at Gamla in 67 C.E. The site was never rebuilt.