500-year-old Jewish Skeleton Found in First Known Synagogue of the New World

Skeleton found during earthwork in Recife, Brazil where Portuguese Jews in 1636 built the 1st known synagogue in the New World.

By JTA

 

Brazilian archaeologists unearthed what they said are the 500-year-old remains of a Jewish man in Recife.

Recife, Brazil [file]

Recife, Brazil [file] – Photo: Wikimedia Common

A report Thursday in the online edition of the Rio de Janeiro-based O Globo described the discovery earlier this month as a perfectly-preserved skeleton of a male adult. The skeleton was found during earthwork in Recife in northern Brazil, where Portuguese Jews in 1636 built the first known synagogue in the New World.

Marcos Albuquerque of the Federal University of Pernambuco, who oversaw the dig around the skeleton, told O Globo he had no doubt the man was Jewish and that he was buried sometime in the 16th century.

“In Christian tradition, it is customary to bury the dead with their hands crossed over their chest, but this man was buried with hands laid alongside his body before rigor mortis set in,” Albuquerque said. “Furthermore, the body was buried in simple shroud without jewellery or any other private belonging and without casket.”

The body was found five feet underground, O Globo reported, during the construction of a tunnel, Tunel da Abolicao, in Recife’s central neighborhood of Madalena. The tomb is situated approximately 1.5 miles east of the Kahal Zur synagogue, which Jews who fled the Portuguese and Spanish Inquisitions built in Recife, which was then still a Dutch colony.

Determining exactly when the man was buried would require the removal of a piece of the skeleton for carbon dating. “But out of respect to the religious issue, we left the body where it was found,” Albuquerque said.

 

View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/500-year-old-Jewish-skeleton-found-in-Brazil-320391

2 comments

  1. Don Martin says:

    Also, the Portuguese built the first Jewish Synagogue in New York. It is amazing how many Portuguese are of Jewish ancestry. I am Portuguese and every Portuguese person I know of who has had their DNA tested has found out they are Hebrew (from one of the 12 tribes of Israel). Some are shocked when they find out. All have questions for the Catholic Church regarding the inquisition.

  2. jewish person says:

    B”H they need to give it proper burial and say kaddish with a minyan.

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