Art Classes: Level III

Lesson III-15: The Carvings of Capernaum

The lesson is suitable for students in grade 5 through adult.


Lesson Description:

In the ancient town of Capernaum, Israel, one can see the ruins of a majestic synagogue that was destroyed in the 7th century - possibly by war, and possibly by an earthquake. The ruins of this synagogue stand on the foundation of the synagogue that Jesus preached in, according to the story in Mark 1:21. The beams that once spanned the ceiling of this later synagogue were covered with carvings, most of them depicting food - seven foods that are so special to the country that they are referred to as the “seven sacred species.” You can find the seven foods growing throughout the countryside of modern day Israel.

In this art lesson students will learn about the history and importance of these seven foods, and they’ll use carvings from the ancient synagogue as inspiration for a printing project. Students will create a printing block from a styrofoam plate or platter and they’ll print over a colorful background of oil pastels - after learning about several options for creating color harmony.


This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson, plus 2 downloadable printouts: a warmup and a drawing of the carvings. 


List of Supplies for Each Student:

  • A printout of the warmup
  • A printout of the drawings of the carvings
  • A fine tipped black magic marker
  • One or more styrofoam plates
  • A piece of cardboard to glue the styrofoam onto
  • A scissors
  • A sheet of 11 x 14 drawing paper
  • A set of oil pastels
  • A glue stick
  • A sharpened lead pencil
  • A brayer
  • A tube of water-soluble printing ink
  • A flat surface to roll the ink onto as you load ink on the brayer


Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:

Color harmony: Learn six ways to create color harmony.


Social studies 

​The number 7

  • Learn about the meaning of the number 7 in the Bible.
  • Find Fun facts about the number 7.

Jewish holidays


  • Learn to dance the horah, a Jewish wedding dance.


  • Learn to make hummus, a popular Israeli food. 
  • Learn to make shakshuka, an Israeli egg dish. 



Original Image
Original Image
Drawing the designs
Drawing the designs
A Finished Art Lesson
A Finished Art Lesson

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