Rare Byzantine-Era Mosaic Found and Restored

The unique 1,500-year-old mosaic served as the floor of a church and will be displayed in Kiryat Gat.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Restoring mosaic
Restoring mosaic
Nikki Davidov, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A rare Byzantine-era floor mosaic discovered in Israel that depicts streets and buildings on a "city map" of a place in Egypt will be presented to the public Thursday during the “Factories from Within” festival after having been restored.

The mosaic of about 3.5 meters (11.4 feet) by 3.5 meters served as the floor of a church that no longer exists, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Tuesday.

"The appearance of buildings on mosaic floors is a rare phenomenon in Israel," the authority said.

"The buildings are arranged along a main colonnaded street of a city, in a sort of ancient map. A Greek inscription preserved alongside one of the buildings... indicates that the place which is depicted is the settlement Chortaso, in Egypt."

According to IAA, Christian tradition holds that the biblical Hebrew prophet Habakkuk was buried in Chortaso, and the 1,500-year-old mosaic might refer to the origin of the church's congregation.

Two sections of the mosaic were preserved; animals such as a rooster, deer and birds and a special goblet with red fruits are portrayed on one part of the pavement. 

"The artist utilized tesserae (tiles) of seventeen different colors in preparing the mosaic," the authority said. "The investment in the raw
materials and their quality are the best ever discovered in Israel."

The ancient mosaic was discovered two years ago in the industrial zone of the southern city of Kiryat Gat.

AFP contributed to this report.