Mosaic found in Yavneh
Mosaic found in YavnehAssaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities Authority

An impressive 1,600-year-old mosaic found during archaeological excavations in Yavne is to be placed on public display at the city’s cultural center, in a joint initiative launched by Yavne municipality, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Land Authority.

In recent years, the Israel Antiquities Authority has been conducting large-scale archaeological excavations to the southeast of Tel Yavne, as part of the Israel Land Authority’s city development program. The excavations, directed by Dr. Elie Haddad, Liat Nadav-Ziv and Dr. Jon Seligman, unearthed an extensive industrial zone that was in operation for several centuries.

According to the archaeologists, this is the first time that such a pavement has been uncovered in Yavne and its preservation is excellent. In their opinion, “The pavement may have been part of a splendid residential building in a wealthy neighborhood adjacent to the industrial zone.”

The mayor of Yavne, Zvi Gur-Ari, states that “Archaeological preservation and awareness of the past are important values in the life of the city of Yavne, which has a magnificent history. In an age of progress and accelerated development in all fields of life, future generations should also be able to see how the city has evolved throughout history. We will continue to work with the Israel Antiquities Authority to ensure public accessibility to the finds and continued research and understanding of the city’s past and its historical importance.”

The multicolored mosaic pavement, dated to the Byzantine period (4th -5th century CE) was unearthed in archaeological excavations directed by Avishag Reiss of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The floor is decorated with colorful geometric motifs and has a black rectangular frame. “At first, we did not realize that the floor is multicolored,” say Dr. Elie Haddad and Dr. Hagit Torgë.

“We assumed that it was simple white mosaic paving belonging to yet another industrial installation. But black patches dotted around the mosaic suggested that it was more than one color and prompted us to remove the whitish patina that had coated it for years.

The conservation director went to work cleaning the mosaic with a special acid,” they add, “and to our astonishment, a colorful mosaic carpet was revealed, ornamented with geometric motifs.”

Once the mosaic had been documented, drawn and photographed in the field, it was removed and temporarily transferred to the Israel Antiquities Authority’s mosaic workshop at the Rockefeller Museum, where it has been treated and preserved by the authority’s conservation experts.

In cooperation between the Israel Antiquities Authority and Yavne municipality, which endeavors to make archeology accessible to the town’s residents, and with the assistance of the Israel Land Authority, a suitable location has been found for the mosaic – in the plaza near Yavne’s cultural center.

The municipality is currently preparing the infrastructure for the mosaic, for the benefit of Yavne’s citizens and the general public. The mosaic’s relocation and preservation will be carried out using ancient technological methods and employing materials similar to those used in antiquity. During the work, the site will be open to the public, thus enabling everyone to see and enjoy the conservation process and the gradual uncovering of the mosaic.

Archaeologist Diego Barkan from the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Tel Aviv District welcomes the fruitful cooperation between the Israel Land Authority and Yavne municipality. “I am happy that the mosaic will be displayed in a central location in the city, so that the values embodied in its heritage are preserved and made accessible to the general public.”