1,700-Year-Old Hidden Mosaic Unearthed During Construction of New Mosaic Museum

The ancient mosaic finds an unexpected home.

Part of the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Part of the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Employee of Israel’'s Antiquities Authority work on the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Employee of Israel’’s Antiquities Authority work on the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel.
Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Archaeologists in Israel have kind of a great problem. While building a visitor center to house the Lod Mosaic, a magnificent work from 300 AD discovered near the construction site in 1996, workers uncovered another ancient treasure: a 1,700-year-old Roman mosaic.

The new find measures an impressive 36 feet by 42 feet, and would have likely paved the courtyard floor in a large Roman or Byzantine-era villa. The Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled photos of the floor, which contains imagery of fish, hunting animals, birds, and vases, this week in the Israel National News, which called it “breathtaking” and “among the most beautiful” mosaics in the country.

Part of the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Part of the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel.
Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The 50 foot by 27 foot Lod Mosaic, which was unearthed during highway construction, dates to the third century. Its permanent home, the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center, is currently being built. The new mosaic was discovered just a few meters from the original find.

“The villa we found was part of a neighborhood of affluent houses that stood here during the Roman and Byzantine periods,” said the Authority’s lead excavator, Amir Gorzalczany, to Israel National News. “The quality of the images portrayed in the mosaic indicates a highly developed artistic ability.”

The new discovery is now being incorporated into construction plans for the Mosaic Center.

The 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The Lod Mosaic has been on a world tour since 2010, beginning at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and travelling to venues including the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Chicago’s Field Museum, and the Louvre in Paris. It is currently on view at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice through January 10, 2016.

Other recent finds by the Authority include an Alexander the Great mosaica 1,500-year-old monastery, and what may be the lost tomb of the Maccabees.

See more images of the find below.

Part of the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Part of the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

An employee of Israel’'s Antiquities Authority works on the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit.

An employee of Israel’’s Antiquities Authority works on the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel.
Photo: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit.

An employee of Israel’'s Antiquities Authority cleans the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel. Photo: AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana.

An employee of Israel’’s Antiquities Authority cleans the 1,700-year-old Roman-era mosaic floor discovered in Israel.
Photo: AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana.


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