In 2004 Rev. Juan M. Solana set out on a mission to develop a resort on the Sea of Galilee for Christian pilgrims. Solana, a Roman Catholic priest, purchased four privately owned plots of land near Migdal, the hometown of Mary of Magdalene with hopes of building a facility that would help Christians find rest and relaxation in Holy Land.
During a standard salvage dig required by the Israeli government before building can take place, the New York Times reports archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), unearthed remnants of a synagogue from the first century that revealed the location was the actual town of Migdal, also known by its ancient name, Magdala.
The newly discovered Magdala synagogue is one of only seven uncovered in Israel that was in use during the first century C.E., when the Jerusalem Temple still stood.
Archaeologists say they found a stone block that was likely used as a table where the Torah was read. Officials maintain the block is a miniature replica of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.
It is also believed that not only did Jesus spend a significant amount of time in this area, but possibly taught in the newly discover synagogue.
“We do not fully understand the power of this stone yet,” Arfan Najar, an archaeologist and co-manager of the Magdala dig, told the New York Times. “Whoever did this saw the temple with his own eyes.”
While the building plans had to be altered due to the findings, a portion of Father Solana’s resort is complete, but only one third of the necessary $100 million have been raised to complete the project.
Called Magdala Center, the hotel sits on 20 acres of land and can accommodate 300 guests.
Publication date: May 14, 2014