Unique Glass Mosaic Unveiled After Restoration in Caesarea

Mosaic panel probably was a glass table in 6th century Caesarea, known for its Roman, Byzantine and Crusader ruins.

Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has restored a unique 1,400-year-old glass mosaic, which was discovered in 2005 during excavation of the ancient Bird Palace in Caesarea, Haaretz has learned.

Yael Gurin-Rosen, head of the IAA's glass department, said that the mosaic panel is the first of its kind to be excavated in Israel, and due to the quality of its preservation, given its age, and its gleaming, gilded craftsmanship indicating Christian origins, it is most likely the only one in the world.

"It's a unique find, a piece of art," Joseph Patrich, professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "It's in its original state," Patrich said, "because the panel fell face down, protecting its green, blue and gold facade from debris and damage."

"The mosaic is particularly important because the small colored tiles forming it feature two styles of tiling: gold glass and the more traditional multicolored, opaque glass commonly associated with mosaics," he said. The tiles depict two motifs: crosses and eight-petalled rosettes.

The owner and origin of the palace in which the panel was found is unclear - all that is known is that the residents were likely Christian, experts said.

The panel, which probably served as a glass table in the late Byzantine era, is being shown in Caesarea along with other finds from the site.