Israeli archaeologists unearth rare Roman-era mosaic | News | DW | 08.02.2018
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Israeli archaeologists unearth rare Roman-era mosaic

The 1,800-year-old mosaic depicts three prosperous-looking males wearing togas. The colorful "high-quality" mosaic is a first of its kind to be found in Israel.

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered a Roman-era mosaic in the historic coastal city of Caesarea, the country's antiquities body said on Thursday.

The mosaic, dating back to the 2nd or 3rd century AD, was discovered during the excavation of a building from the Byzantine period — some 300 years younger than the mosaic it was hiding.

"The surprise was actually that we found two beautiful monuments from the glorious days of Caesarea," Peter Gendelman, co-director of excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said referring to the building and mosaic.

The excavated portion of the mosaic, which measures about 3.5 meters by 8 meters (11 feet by 26 feet) in size, depicts three prosperous-looking males wearing togas, one facing the viewer and the other two in profile. It also bears geometric patterns and an inscription in Greek, which is damaged.

'High-quality' discovery

It's not yet clear if the mosaic was part of a private mansion or a public building.

If the mosaic came from a mansion, the figures could have been the owners, or if it was a public building, they may have been the mosaic's donors or members of the city council, Gendelman said.

Read more: How Jews, Christians and Muslims exchanged knowledge for a millennium

The mosaic was of a high artistic standard, with about 12,000 stones per square meter, the antiquities authority said.

While such "high-quality" mosaics have been found in Cyprus and northern Syria in the past, it's a first in Israel.

Caesarea, located 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of capital Tel Aviv, was a Roman metropolis built in honor of Emperor Augustus Caesar by King Herod, who ruled what was then Judea from 37 BC until his death in 4 BC.

ap/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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