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Israeli archaeologists have found the world's oldest synagogue in the ruins of a 2,000-year-old palace outside the West Bank town of Jericho.

The synagogue, which dates from 50-70 B.C., was uncovered in the ruins of a Maccabean winter palace, Ehud Netzer, a professor of archaeology at Hebrew University, said Sunday.

Netzer said the synagogue was important not only because of its age and direct connection with the Maccabean monarchy, but also because it gave scholars "a clearer picture of the nature and form of synagogues that existed in the land of Israel prior to the destruction of the Temple" in A.D. 70.

The synagogue and the palace were destroyed in an earthquake in 31 B.C., and King Herod later built another palace over the ruins.

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