Ancient Magdala is located at the foot of the E slopes of Mt. Arbel, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (map ref. 7477/2478) (fig. 1). The Aramaic name Magdala or Migdal Nunayya (The tower of the fish), mentioned in Rabbinic sources of the Roman period, is preserved in the name of the Arab village of el-Mejdel that stood on the site until 1948. The identification is also confirmed by ancient sources that indicate Magdala was located on the main road a few kilometers from Tiberias. In 1877, Charles Wilson suggested identifying this site also with the toponym Tαριχϵα (Taricheae, factories/vats for salting fish), which is mentioned only in Greek and Latin sources (Cassius Longinus in Cic., Ad Fam. 12.11; Plin., NH 5.71-72; Strab. 16.2.45, Josephus [see below], and Suet., Tit. 4.3), although they do not mention the name Magdala. It becomes evident from these sources that the town was located on the shore near Tiberias; Josephus's explicit note, placing it 30 stadia (c.5.4 km) from Tiberias, exactly fits the site of el-Mejdel. Although some scholars raised alternative identifications, it has become widely accepted that the names Magdala and Taricheae are synonymous and that they should be identified with the Arab village of el-Mejdel.1
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Copyright © Journal of Roman Archaeology L.L.C. 2019.