Researchers Discover Remarkable 1,600-Year-Old Mosaic From Byzantine Age in Israel

May 31, 2021 Updated: May 31, 2021

Archaeologists carrying out excavations on a site prior to a new neighborhood development in Yavne, in Israel, recently discovered a well-preserved ancient mosaic.

The mosaic, which displays colorful geometric motifs in a black rectangular frame, was discovered by Israel Antiquities Authority researchers, led by Avishag Reiss.

The find dates back to the Byzantine period, during the Fourth to Fifth Centuries

Epoch Times Photo
The ancient mosaic floor discovered in Yavne. (Courtesy of Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)
Epoch Times Photo
An overhead view of the dig site in Yavne. (Courtesy of Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists have been carrying out large-scale excavations in Yavne, in collaboration with the Israel Land Authority, as part of the city’s development program.

The mosaic was amazingly well preserved and is suspected to have been part of a luxurious residential building in a wealthy area.

It is the first such colored mosaic floor to be found in Yavne, in an industrial area, said  Elie Haddad, director of the excavation, of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The ancient floor was found coated with a white patina (gloss or film), a the result of the find’s age, which led them to believe, initially, that the floor was a simple paving.

Epoch Times Photo
Detail of the impressive 1,600-year-old mosaic uncovered in Yavne. (Courtesy of Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)
Epoch Times Photo
Detail of the ancient mosaic motif. (Courtesy of Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

“At first, we did not realize that the floor is multicolored,” said Haddad in a statement. “We assumed that it was a simple white 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 applied a special acid to the artwork with a brush to remove the patina, and to their surprise, a colorful mosaic ornamented with geometric motifs was revealed.

Such mosaics are unusual in industrial areas, and this one could indicate the possibility of more residential remains, said Haddad.

Epoch Times Photo
A wide-angle shot of the dig site and surrounding areas. (Courtesy of Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

After the mosaic was documented, drawn, and photographed, Israel Antiquities Authority officials transferred it to their workshop at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem for treatment and preservation by experts.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, in collaboration with the Yavne municipality and Israel Land Authority, intends to make the mosaic available for viewing by the public and has identified a strategic location to place it.

The Yavne municipality, which focuses on making archaeology accessible to the town’s residents, is currently planning the infrastructure for the mosaic display, which will be placed in the plaza near Yavne’s cultural center.

Epoch Times Photo
An aerial view of the excavation site. (Courtesy of Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Preservation and relocation for the ancient floor will be carried out using ancient technological methods and materials similar to those used in antiquity for the sake of cultural authenticity.

“I am happy that the mosaic will be displayed in a central location in the city, so that the values embodied in its heritage are preserved and made accessible to the general public,” said Diego Barkan, from the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the statement.

Yavne mayor, Zvi Gur-Ari, emphasized the importance of culture preservation in the current age for the sake of future generations.

“Archaeological preservation and awareness of the past are important values in the city of Yavne, which has a magnificent history,” he said. “Future generations should also be able to see how the city evolved throughout history.”

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