One of the most exceptional and well-preserved mosaics ever to be discovered in the Holy Land is now on view in the world’s most visited museum. On Thursday, May 22, the mosaic from Lod, Israel went on display at the Musée du Louvre. Located in a new exhibition area devoted to the Roman Eastern Mediterranean, the Lod Mosaic is presented side-by-side with the Four Seasons Mosaic from Antioch.
After its discovery in 1996, the Lod Mosaic was reburied for its preservation until a gift from Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation funded re-excavation, conservation and development at the site. During the construction of the new Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center, the mosaic has been on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Columbus Ohio Museum of Art and the University of Pennsylvania Museum before reaching the Louvre.
From the November/December 2009 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review’s Exhibit Watch on the Lod Mosaic in New York:
The beautiful and elegantly crafted third-century A.D. mosaic, which is festooned with lively depictions of wild beasts, birds and marine life, was discovered nearly 15 years ago during roadwork near the town of Lod just south of Tel Aviv, but it had to be reburied until sufficient funding was found to properly care for the remarkable piece.
As recently reported in BAR, a grant from Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation has finally allowed the Israel Antiquities Authority to excavate and conserve the mosaic’s brilliant panels, including this impressive 13-foot-square mosaic carpet (above), that may have once adorned the main audience room of a luxurious Roman villa. The stunning mosaic features an intricate lattice of square and triangular scenes of various birds, fish and game animals surrounding a central octagonal scene showing some of the ferocious and exotic animals—a lion and lioness, an elephant, a giraffe, a rhinoceros, a tiger, a bull—that the villa’s wealthy owner may have supplied to the staged hunts and gladiatorial contests that were so popular during the period.
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.
“The Lod Mosaic—Jewish, Christian or Pagan?” Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2016.
“Strata: Masterpiece Rediscovers Light of Day,” Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2009.
“Strata: Exhibit Watch: Met Showcases Exceptional Roman Mosaic from Lod,” Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2010.
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It was a very exciting day when this mosaic was revealed, in Lod, in situ, to the public. I stood in line for an hour together with people from all walks of life, young, old and in between, as we waited for our chance to behold this beautiful work and hear all about it from the experts. How wonderful that the world will get a look at it at the Louvre!