Faradid: This discovery, which was announced on Tuesday, places a 14th century structure in a rare category of medieval synagogues that have remained almost intact years after the deportation of the Spanish Jews in 1492. Only four surviving synagogues have been identified in Spain after 1492 (two in Toledo, one in Segovia, and one in Córdoba).
During seven centuries, the use of this synagogue has changed several times; From church and hospital to orphanage and restaurant and finally a pub. More than 400 years ago, references to this temple have been lost. Rodrigo Caro of Oterra, historian, poet and local priest, wrote in the book "History of the city" written in 1604: "In that place, the only people were foreigners and Jews ... who had their own synagogue; Where Misericordia Hospital is today.
Oterra city council decided to buy this building in 2016. However, the purchase price led to some controversy. Critics questioned whether the proposed purchase price was really worth it, given that there was no solid evidence that the said synagogue was actually there or not.
Critics said there are no official maps or records describing this medieval synagogue, as Jewish communities in pre-exilic Spain had a great deal of autonomy, including their own legal courts and tax systems. Furthermore, it was thought that even if a hospital was built on top of the synagogue, nothing of the original structure would remain.
But despite the opposition, the city insisted on taking ownership of the synagogue and ordered an archaeological survey of the structure in November 2021. Now, the archaeological team has confirmed Rodrigo Caro 's story by identifying these items: the synagogue's prayer room, the far-off benches, the hechal (the Sephardi Jewish term for the Torah box) and the small room or recess in the wall, where the biblical scrolls were kept.
Archaeologist Miguel Angel de Dios told reporters: After years of analyzing the walls and floor of this structure, "the first thing we have to confirm is the presence of the prayer hall. The main elements of the synagogue, such as the entrance hall or the far benches discovered in this study, are now the evidence that confirms that we have indeed found the prayer hall." Miguel Ángel de Dios and his team now hope to identify the oratory platform and the tub for religious ceremonies.