History or comments
The oldest synagogue in the Diaspora, now an archeological site.
The ancient city of Delos is an archeological ruin on the island of Delos only two kilometers from Mykonos. There is no current Jewish population, or any permanent population, on the island of Delos. This synagogue is the oldest in the Diaspora.
The existence of a Jewish community in Delos was mentioned in the Bible (New Testament) and was confirmed by five inscriptions from the late 2nd or early 1st century B.C.E. The ruins of the synagogue reveal that it consisted of two rooms with benches set along the western wall of the northernmost room. A marble throne and footstool still, referred to as the “Throne of Moses” still exists. An arched opening rises above a cistern which may have been a Mikve (ritual bath).
There is no specific information about the Jewish community of Delos. In the fourth century B.C.E Ptolemee I of Egypt granted self-government to Egypt. It is likely that this independence lead to settlement of Jews on the island. Under the Romans Delos became an important slave market. In 88 B.C.E. the forces of King Mithridates of Pontus defeated the Romans of Delos, took a large number of slaves and destroyed most of the town leaving approximately 20,000 dead. It is likely the synagogues were destroyed at that time.