Byzantine Monastery with Vibrant Mosaics Discovered in the Northern Negev

Bible and archaeology news

Hura mosaic

IAA excavations have uncovered a 1,500-year-old monastery with well-preserved mosaics in the northern Negev desert in Israel. Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

In a recent press release, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced the discovery of a Byzantine-period monastery with colorful, well-preserved mosaics near the Bedouin village of Hura in the northern Negev desert.

IAA archaeologists uncovered the monastery, measuring 65 by 115 feet with halls built along an east–west axis, during salvage excavations. The most impressive mosaics were found in the monastery’s dining room and prayer hall. Floral motifs, geometric decorations, amphorae, baskets and a pair of birds decorate the dining room’s mosaic floor. Blue, red, yellow and green mosaic leaf patterns adorn the prayer hall.

The mosaic floors include four dedicatory inscriptions in Greek referencing Eliyahu, Nonus, Solomon and Ilrion—abbots of the monastery. The inscriptions also indicate the dates of when the mosaic pavements were laid, which helped the archaeologists date the monastery to the second half of the sixth century C.E.

Learn about the spectacular mosaics—including depictions of Samson from the Bible—discovered in a Late Roman-Byzantine synagogue in Huqoq.

“It seems that this monastery, located near the Byzantine settlement of Horbat Hur, is one monastery in a series of monasteries situated alongside a road that linked Transjordan with the Be’er Sheva Valley,” said excavation director Daniel Varga.

The IAA in coordination with the Netivei Israel Company, Hura municipality and Wadi ‘Attir Association plans to relocate the monastery and its mosaics to the nearby Wadi ‘Attir agricultural and tourism project.

Read the IAA press release.

Posted in News, Biblical Archaeology Sites, Post-Biblical Period.

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