After more than a century in the archaeological shadows, the Priene synagogue on the western coast of Turkey is finally getting the attention it deserves, thanks to the financial support of BAR and its readers.

The late-antique synagogue, one of only three found in Asia Minor (see sidebar), was first excavated at the very end of the 19th century by German scholars but was misidentified as a “house church.” It was only when pioneering Israeli archaeologist E.L. Sukenik was looking through the excavation’s published reports three decades later that the structure was accurately identified as a synagogue. Additional excavations, however, were never undertaken.

Now BAR and its readers have enabled archaeologists to return to the synagogue to learn more about the building’s history and the Jewish community at Priene. Led by Nadin Burkhardt from the University of Frankfurt am Main and Mark Wilson of the Asia Minor Research Center in Izmir, Turkey, excavations carried out since August 2009 have identified the synagogue’s main phases, as well as graffiti and plaques decorated with menorahs that once adorned the sanctuary.a In addition, the remains of the synagogue have been cleared of more than a century’s worth of overgrowth and accumulated soil, allowing the team to carefully measure and map all of the building’s main features, including the synagogue’s stepped entrance, the Torah niche in its eastern wall and the benches surrounding the congregational hall.