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1,600-year-old Byzantine mosaic with geometric motifs uncovered in Yavne

1,600-year-old Byzantine mosaic with geometric motifs uncovered in Yavne 1

A 1,600-year-old Byzantine mosaic uncovered in Yavne, which archaeologists said may have once graced a mansion in an affluent neighbourhood, is set to go on display in the central city, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Monday.

Yavne in Greco-Roman times, it was known as Jamnia (Ancient Greek: Ἰαμνία Iamníā; Latin: Iamnia); to the Crusaders as Ibelin; and before 1948, as Yibna.

The multicoloured mosaic flooring dated to the Byzantine era (4th-5th century CE) was unearthed during excavations and was initially thought to be plain white due to a patina coating.

“At first, we did not realize that the floor is multicolored,” said Dr. Elie Haddad and Dr. Hagit Torgë of the IAA in a statement.

“We assumed that it was simple white mosaic paving belonging to yet another industrial installation,” they said.

“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 experts said in the statement.

The Byzantine mosaic was cleaned using special acid “and to our astonishment, a colourful mosaic carpet was revealed, ornamented with geometric motifs.”

Byzantine
1,600-year-old Byzantine mosaic uncovered during archaeological excavations in Yavne (Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority).

The archaeologists said it was the first time that flooring of this type had been discovered in Yavne, and it “may have been part of a splendid residential building in a wealthy neighbourhood adjacent to the industrial zone.”

The mosaic’s relocation and preservation will be carried out using ancient technological methods and employing materials similar to those used in antiquity.

It is set to be displayed at the city’s cultural center as part of a joint initiative launched by the Yavne municipality, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Land Authority.

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