Ancient Roman Mosaic Floor Made Public in Caesarea

The extraordinary mosaic depicts men in togas, was damaged while being restored 1,500 years ago

Nir Hasson
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The ancient Roman mosaic floor in Caesarea
The ancient Roman mosaic floor in Caesarea Credit: Asaf Peretz / Antiquities Authority
Nir Hasson

The discovery of a 1,800-year-old mosaic floor in the ancient Roman port city of Caesarea south of Haifa was made public by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Thursday. The mosaic, which measures three meters by five meters (10 feet by 16.5 feet), depicts men wearing togas.

The mosaic is of particularly high quality compared to other Roman mosaics found in the region, the antiquities authority said. Staff at the authority said they were of the highest artistic level. Jacques Nagar, who heads the authority’s art conservation division, said the mosaic is composed of small, densely-placed tiles, with about 12,000 tiles per square meter.

The mosaic floor was discovered in recent months in an antiquities authority dig and was carried out as part of work to reconstruct a huge bridge at the entrance to Caesarea from the Byzantine period, the period after which the Roman Empire adopted Christianity. The bridge is slated to be part of a promenade running between Caesarea National Park and the nearby town of Jisr al-Zarqa.

Archaeologists work in Caesarea, February 6, 2018Credit: Asaf Peretz / Antiquities Authority

Excavations undertaken by the antiquities authority and the Caesarea Development Corporation uncovered part of a large, opulent structure from the Byzantine period. The mosaic floor, which belonged to a prior structure on the site, was discovered underneath the Byzantine construction. The Byzantine structure had been restored about 1,500 years ago, in the process destroying part of the mosaic.

Antiquities authority researchers Peter Gendelman and Uzi Ad said they believe the mosaic was a main feature in an opulent house, and it is possible that the figures depicted in it were the owners of the house.