A Magnificent Mosaic from Byzantine Israel

Bible and archaeology news

Photo: Yael Yolovitch / Israeli Antiquities Authority / EPA

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced the discovery of a well-preserved and ornate Byzantine-era mosaic at Kibbutz Bet Qama in southern-central Israel. Found in a fourth-sixth century C.E. large roofed hall, the mosaic is composed of intricate geometric patterns alongside depictions of amphorae, fruits, peacocks and doves. Archaeologists associated with the excavation describe the structure, which features painted plaster pools, channels, piping and a roof-tiled ceiling, as a public building. The architectural elements are indicative of a strong economy; however, they pale in comparison to stunning mosaic floor below. The skillfully worked floor’s size, condition, motif combinations and artistic detail have attracted the attention of international publications from FOX News to The Huffington Post. The mosaic was discovered in an excavation prior to the construction of a highway interchange, which so far as yielded remains of an estate with a church, residential buildings, storerooms, a cistern and public building surrounded by farmland. Starting tomorrow, May 16, the IAA and the Cross-Israel Highway company will open the excavation for public tours.

The 2012 excavations at Huqoq uncovered a synagogue mosaic depicting Samson from a scene in Judges. Read about the mosaic discoveries in the Bible History Daily section More on the Mosaics.

BAS Library Members, read “Samson in the Synagogue” by Jodi Magness as it appeared in the January/February 2013 issue of BAR.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.

Read more about the Kibbutz Bet Qama in an Israel Antiquities Authority press release.

Photo: Yael Yolovitch / Israeli Antiquities Authority / EPA

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  • Tim says

    The Byzantine Empire just took Israel from Persia. But something was starting to happen in the Arabian Peninsula. Raiding caravans was a very important part of the economies of Arabian tribes. But Mohammed, who was on the caravan between Damascus and Mecca devised truces where they would not raid each others caravans. So this took the Arabian tribes up into Byzantine and Persian territory to raid their caravans, and along with this was the expansion of Islam. But Byzantine art had a great influence on Islamic art. Caliph Omar took Jerusalem in the 630’s C.E., and the influenced Islamic art came into its own with the construction of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem in 691 C.E.

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