The Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered an exquisite marble statue of Hercules from the second century CE during excavations conducted at Horvat Tarbenet in the Jezreel Valley. Mentioned in the Jewish Talmud, Horvat Tarbenet, located about 4 km northwest of Afula, was a Jewish settlement in the third century CE.
Dr. Walid Atrash of the Israel Antiquities Authority describes the find: “This is a rare discovery. The statue, which probably stood in a niche, was part of the decoration of a bathhouse pool that was exposed during the course of the excavations. It is 0.5 m tall, is made of smoothed white marble and is of exceptional artistic quality. Hercules is depicted in three dimensions, as a naked figure standing on a base; his bulging muscles stand out prominently, leaning on a club to his left, on the upper part of which hangs the skin of the Nemean lion, which according to Greek mythology Hercules slew as the first of his twelve labors.”
A hero in Greek and Roman mythology, Hercules is considered the strongest man in the world, a symbol of power, courage and superhuman strength. Hercules is one of the most famous legendary heroes of ancient Greece for battling the forces of the netherworld on behalf of the Olympian gods.
Also at the site, other archaeological remains were discovered, among them dwellings, a well and an installation that included a large pool thought to be a Roman bathhouse. Benches were found on two sides of the pools. The newly discovered complex apparently underwent a number of changes and it is dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods, until the beginning of the Early Islamic period.