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1600-year-old mosaic uncovered in Israel

An impressive 1600-year-old mosaic found during archaeological excavations in central Israel. It shows a floor decorated with colorful geometric motifs and having a black rectangular frame.

The Byzantine-era mosaic was found in the city of Yavne during excavations led by the Israel Antiquities Authority. According to the archaeologists, this is the first time that such a pavement has been uncovered in Yavne and its preservation is excellent. In their opinion, “The pavement may have been part of a splendid residential building in a wealthy neighborhood adjacent to the industrial zone.”

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The mosaic is believed to have been made in the fourth or fifth century AD.  “At first, we did not realize that the floor is multicolored,” say Dr. Elie Haddad and Dr. Hagit Torgë, who led the archaeological team. “We assumed that it was simple white mosaic paving belonging to yet another industrial installation. But black patches dotted around the mosaic suggested that it was more than one color and prompted us to remove the whitish patina that had coated it for years.”

“The conservation director went to work cleaning the mosaic with a special acid,” they add, “and to our astonishment, a colorful mosaic carpet was revealed, ornamented with geometric motifs.”

Once the mosaic had been documented, drawn and photographed in the field, it was removed and temporarily transferred to the Israel Antiquities Authority’s mosaic workshop at the Rockefeller Museum, where it has been treated and preserved by the authority’s conservation experts.

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Photo courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

The archaeological work will continue, as the researchers believe they unearthed an extensive pre-modern industrial zone that was in operation for several centuries.

The mayor of Yavne, Zvi Gur-Ari, adds that “Archaeological preservation and awareness of the past are important values in the life of the city of Yavne, which has a magnificent history. In an age of progress and accelerated development in all fields of life, future generations should also be able to see how the city has evolved throughout history. We will continue to work with the Israel Antiquities Authority to ensure public accessibility to the finds and continued research and understanding of the city’s past and its historical importance.”

Photo courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

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