Q. YOUR BOOK MAKES CLEAR THAT WE CAN NO LONGER SEE MAGDALA AS SOME LITTLE INCONSEQUENTIAL VILLAGE WHERE MARY CAME FROM. INDEED IT HAD A CONSIDERABLE HISTORY BOTH BEFORE TIBERIAS WAS EVEN BUILT, AND AFTER THE TIME OF JESUS. WHY DOES THE TOWN FADE INTO OBSCURITY AFTER THE JEWISH WAR?
A. The city certainly declined in population: the northern part (where the synagogue and the fish workshops are) was abandoned over a period, though the southern area evidently remained a significant enough place for the Roman baths to be redeveloped and extended. The great earthquake that devastated much of Galilee in the middle of the fourth century finished it off. The rabbis call Magdala “the Tower of the Dyers”, which suggests that the fishing industry became much less important and the city was known rather for dying fabrics. Maybe Tiberias got the better of its rival both in fishing and in commanding the trade routes.