Spectacular 1,500-year-old Mosaic Discovered in Southern Israel

Floor is centerpiece of sprawling Byzantine village unearthed at Beit Kama.

Yanir Yagna
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Yanir Yagna

A magnificent 1,500-year-old mosaic floor has been uncovered by archeologists near Kibbutz Beit Kama in the south, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday.

The mosaic was the most outstanding find in a Byzantine-era village unearthed in the Negev during a survey conducted prior to construction of a highway.

The village, which thrived from the 4th through 6th centuries C.E., encompassed about six dunams – or an acre and a half – and was discovered under the fields of the kibbutz. Among the finds was a public building measuring 12 meters by 8.5 meters (about 40 feet by 26 feet) containing the mosaic floor. Archaeologists assume the building was a public one due to its size and relative opulence.

The colorful mosaic includes geometric motifs and features amphorae – wine containers— in the corners, as well as a pair of peacocks and a pair of doves pecking at grapes on grapevines. The combination of so many motifs in one mosaic is unusual, say Israel Antiquities Authority officials.

The building also features a system of water channels, pipes and water pools.

The site, situated on an ancient road that led north from Be'er Sheva, apparently included a large estate with a church, residential buildings, storerooms, a large water cistern, a public building and agricultural fields equipped with irrigation pools. One building appears to have served as a hostel for travelers passing through the area, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The site was excavated prior to the southern extension of Route 6.

The colorful mosaic floor includes geometric motifs as well as peacocks and doves. Credit: Ilan Assayag
The colorful mosaic floor includes geometric motifs as well as peacocks and doves.
The colorful mosaic floor includes geometric motifs as well as peacocks and doves.
The colorful mosaic floor includes geometric motifs as well as peacocks and doves.
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The colorful mosaic floor includes geometric motifs as well as peacocks and doves. Credit: Ilan Assayag
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The colorful mosaic floor includes geometric motifs as well as peacocks and doves.Credit: AFP
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The colorful mosaic floor includes geometric motifs as well as peacocks and doves.Credit: Ilan Assayag

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