In 1996, a group of construction workers in Israel were surprised to discover an almost undamaged Roman mosaic hiding beneath the street where they were working. Now, while building a visitor’s center dedicated to that discovery, construction workers have uncovered yet another impressive mosaic. Both mosaics were created almost 2,000 years ago to decorate a villa in an affluent Roman neighbourhood.
The “new” mosaic is almost 42-feet-long and, at one time, served as the floor in a magnificent courtyard of a well-heeled Roman home. The courtyard was once surrounded by grand porticos whose roofs would have been supported by columns.
“The villa we found was part of a neighborhood of affluent houses that stood here during the Roman and Byzantine periods,” Dr. Amir Gorzalczany, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said.
The mosaic depicts a hunting scene, showing animals, fish, flowers in baskets, vases and birds. According to Gorzalczany, “The quality of the images portrayed in the mosaic indicates a highly developed artistic ability.”
The mosaic discovered in the 90s was once the living room floor in the same villa, but has since travelled extensively and has been on display at some of the world’s leading museums, including the Metropolitan, the Louvre and the Hermitage. It is currently in Venice and will be returning home when the visitor center in Lod is finally complete.
Part of the complex may still be covered by modern buildings in the area and new discoveries may be yet to come.