6th century Byzantine mosaic uncovered in Israel

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 A Byzantine mosaic dating to the 6th century AD has been discovered in Israel. The find was made by researchers from the University of Haifa, who were excavating at Tel Shikmona, which lies near the Mediterranean coast near the city of Haifa.

The researchers believe the mosaic is part of an ecclesiastical structure. The excavations are taking place as part of a project funded by the Hecht Foundation, to expand the Hecht Park in Haifa, Israel, annex it to Tel Shikmona, and transform Shikmona into a public archaeological park.

Archaeological excavations at Tel Shikmona were conducted in the 1960s-1970s under the direction of the late Yosef Algavish, on behalf of the Haifa Municipality’s Museum of Ancient Art. Over the past decades, however, the archaeological findings at Tel Shikmona have been damaged, construction waste has piled up on the site, and off-road vehicles have ploughed over it.

The current excavation team, directed by Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa, has labored to carefully remove the layers of waste that piled up over the mosaic floors without causing further damage to the spectacular artwork, to clean the floors and preserve them – priming them for public display. The next step for the team is excavating a part of the tell itself and expanding the excavations to the south of Tel Shikmona.

Although a relatively small site, a wealth of ancient relics has been unearthed at Tel Shikmona, dating back over two thousand years, from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine Period. Past excavations have made an intriguing collection of findings at the site of the tell, in its surrounding areas and on the beach close by, where pools and mooring facilities for boats were revealed.

Tel Shikmona is part of the Shikmona National Park in the Shikmona Nature Reserve, managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

Source: University of Haifa

Sharan Newman