Byzantine-era mosaic uncovered during archaeological excavations south of Tel Aviv

A 1,600-year-old mosaic from the Byzantine era found during excavations was probably the floor of a mansion and was well preserved when found. “The pavement may have been part of a splendid residential building in a wealthy neighborhood adjacent to the industrial zone,” archaeologists involved in the excavation said in a release. Because the mosaic was found in Yavne it will be placed on public display at the city’s cultural center, in a joint initiative launched by Yavne municipality, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Land Authority.

“Archaeological preservation and awareness of the past are important values in the life of the city of Yavne, which has a magnificent history,” the city’s mayor, Zvi Gur-Ari, said. “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.”

The mosaic pavement is multicolored and has a rectangular, black frame. It dates back to the 4th to 5th century. “At first, we did not realize that the floor is multicolored,” Dr. Elie Haddad and Dr. Hagit Torgë said. “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 and to our astonishment, a colorful mosaic carpet was revealed, ornamented with geometric motifs.” The mosaic was first documented, drawn and photographed in the field before being 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.

“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, an archaeologist from the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Tel Aviv District.