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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Byzantine’

Byzantine-Era Lamb Sculpture Discovered at Caesarea Port

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

Archaeologists discovered a Byzantine-era marble sculpture of a lamb Thursday morning in excavations at Caesarea port in the Caesarea National Park,

Experts suggested that the lamb served as part of the decoration in the 6th-7th century CE church that was discovered adjacent to the ancient port.

 

Jewish Press News Briefs

Rare 1,500-year-old Mosaic Featured on Sukkot at Kiryat Gat Industrial Park

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

A rare 1,500-year-old mosaic discovered two years ago during an archaeological excavation in the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park is being revealed to the public for the first time during the Sukkot holiday.

The mosaic, which depicts a map with streets and buildings, was exposed during a dig conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority together with school children and employees from the industrial park.

IAA workers conserving the mosaic.

“The appearance of buildings on mosaic floors is a rare phenomenon in Israel,” commented IAA archaeologists Sa’ar Ganor and Dr. Rina Avner. ““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 exposed in the mosaic indicates that the place which is depicted is the settlement Chortaso, in Egypt.

“According to Christian tradition, the prophet Habakkuk was buried in Chortaso. The appearance of this Egyptian city on the floor of the public building in Kiryat Gat might allude to the origin of the church’s congregation”.

Great artistry and fine detail was used to conserve the mosaic.

“The mosaic pavement was part of the floor of a church that did not survive, the IAA explained. Two sections of the mosaic were preserved; animals such as a rooster, deer and birds, and a goblet with red fruits are portrayed on one part of the pavement.

Buildings were among the images depicted in the excavated mosaic conserved in the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park.

Nile River landscape in Egypt consisting of a boat with a rolled-up sail, streets and buildings is depicted on the second carpet. The buildings are portrayed in detail and in three dimensions, with two and three stories, balconies and galleries, roofing, roof tiles and windows.

The artist utilized ‘tesserae’ of 17 different colors in preparing the mosaic,” noted Ganor. “The investment in the raw materials and their quality are the best ever discovered in Israel.”

For the first time, the “Factories from Within” Festival will be held in the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park during Chol Hamoed Sukkot. The entire industrial park will become an event-filled arena on October 1, including one-time performances in unconventional locations with rare visits inside of some of the best-known factories in Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

Church from 6th Century Discovered near Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Archaeological excavations near the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv Highway 1, at the entrance to Abu Gosh approximately eight miles west of the capital, have uncovered a large Byzantine-period road station that included a church.

The excavations were conducted while upgrading and widening the highway to six lanes.

The site lies next to a seep spring known as ‘Ain Naqa‘a, located on the outskirts of Moshav Bet Neqofa. The current excavation season uncovered a church measuring about 16 meters (52 feet) in length and which includes a side chapel 6.5 m long and 3.5 m wide and a white mosaic floor.

A baptismal font in the form of a four-leafed clover, symbolizing the cross, was installed in the chapel’s northeast corner.

Fragments of red-colored plaster found in the rubble strewn throughout the building showed that the church walls had been decorated with frescoes. To the west of the church were rooms that were probably used as dwelling quarters and for storage. One of them contained a large quantity of pottery tiles.

The excavations yielded numerous different finds, testifying to intensive activity at the site. These included oil lamps, coins, special glass vessels, marble fragments, and mother-of-pearl shells.

Annette Nagar, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said:

The road station and its church were built in the Byzantine period beside the ancient road leading between Jerusalem and the coastal plain. Along this road, which was apparently already established in the Roman period, other settlements and road stations have previously been discovered that served those traveling the route in ancient times.

Included in the services provided along the route were churches, such as the one recently uncovered at the entrance to Abu Gosh. Other churches have been recorded in the past in Abu Gosh, Qiryat Ye‘arim, and Emmaus. This road station ceased to be used at the end of the Byzantine period, although the road beside which it was built was renewed and continued to be in use until modern times.

The excavation site will be covered and preserved for future generations.

Jewish Press Staff

Rare 800 Yr Old Christian Monastery Seal Discovered in Jerusalem

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

A rare 800-year-old Christian monastery lead seal was discovered in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Bayit Ve’Gan, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Tuesday.

The seal – or bulla, as it is known in Latin – was found during an excavation in the summer of 2012 at the Horbath Mizmil archaeological dig, and has since been identified as belonging to the Saint Sabas monastery. The site was abandoned at the end of the Byzantine period and resettled during the Crusader period (11-12 CE) and reached maximum population during the Mamluk period (13-15 CE). Artifacts discovered during the excavations reflected daily life in a farmstead there – and the seal.

S. Sabas – or Mar Saba, in Syriac – was an important leader among the Christian monasteries during the Byzantine period in the area of the Judean Desert.

The seal bears an inscription for Mar Saba, the saint, in Greek, with his likeness, on one side, and a second inscription attributing the item to the saint’s largest monastery, the ‘Great Laura’ during the Byzantine period in the Jerusalem area. The two parts of the seal, which are meant to be pressed together, are connected by a single thread.

Dr. Yuval Baruch, IAA regional archaeologist for Jerusalem and surrounds, presented the unique find to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, who noted its importance for the history of Christianity in the Holy Land and its significance for archaeological research.

Hana Levi Julian

Major 1,500-Year-Old Church and Mosaic Discovered

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Archaeologists digging where a new housing development is to be built have uncovered a 1,500-year-old church and magnificent mosaic with five inscriptions at Moshav Aluma, located between Be’er Sheva and Rehovot.

“An impressive basilica building was discovered at the site, 22 meters long and 12 meters wide,” said Dr. Daniel Varga, who directied the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The building consists of a central hall with two side aisles divided by marble pillars. At the front of the building is a wide open courtyard (atrium) paved with a white mosaic floor, and with a cistern,” he explained. “Leading off the courtyard is a rectangular transverse hall (narthex) with a fine mosaic floor decorated with colored geometric designs; at its center, opposite the entrance to the main hall, is a twelve-row dedicatory inscription in Greek containing the names Mary and Jesus, and the name of the person who funded the mosaic’s construction.”

The main hall (the nave) has a colored mosaic floor adorned with vine tendrils to form forty medallions. The medallions contain depictions of different animals, including a zebra, leopard, turtle, wild boar, various winged birds and botanical and geometric designs.

Three medallions contain dedicatory inscriptions in Greek commemorating senior church dignitaries, Demetrios and Herakles, who were heads of the local regional church.  On both sides of the central nave are two narrow halls, or side aisles, which also have colored mosaic floors depicting botanical and geometric designs, as well as Christian symbols.

A pottery workshop, mainly for the production of jars, was also uncovered during the excavations and yielded numerous finds, including: amphorae, cooking pots, kraters, bowls and different kinds of oil lamps. Glass vessels typical of the Byzantine period were also discovered at the site. The finds indicate a rich and flourishing local culture.

This church is part of a large and important Byzantine settlement that existed in the region. The settlement was located next to the main road running between Ashkelon on the sea coast to the west, and Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem to the east. Excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority along this road have revealed other communities from the same period, but no churches have been found in them.

The recently uncovered church may have served as a center for Christian worship for all the surrounding communities. Wine presses and pottery workshops found in the region attest to the economy of the local residents during the Byzantine period, who made ​​their living from the production and exportation of wine via the coast to the entire Mediterranean region.

The site will be open to the public Thursday and Friday, Later, it will be covered and preserves for future generations. The magnificent mosaic that has come to light will be conserved, removed from the site and displayed to the public at a museum or visitors’ center.

Jewish Press News Briefs

PA Archaeological Thief Caught Red-Handed Digging Up Artifacts

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

Israel’s Antiquities Authority IAA) has caught a Palestinian Authority Arab thief red-handed while digging up ancient artifacts in the Jerusalem Hills.

The IAA’s theft-prevention unit told Tazpit News Agency that the robber, from the village of Hussan in Gush Etzion, was caught trying to dig up and steal artifacts at the “Bohan Ruins.”

Earlier the same day, an inspector of the Nature Reserves Authority and the IAA chased away a gang of robbers from the “Toora Ruins” in the Nahal Soreq area, west of Jerusalem. Artifacts from the Second Temple-era of Herod and Hashmonean times are located there, and the thieves caused extensive and irreversible damage to the sites by reckless digging.

Information acquired by the theft detention unit enabled officials to set up a lookout and spot the gang while it was hiding in nearby bush.

During the day, the gang had proceeded on foot to the Bohan Ruins, the location of a village from the Byzantine period and where a church stood as its center. The gang, which had brought along sleeping bags and food, then worked under the cover of dark and at one point reached only a few feet from the theft-prevention unit.

One of the robbers was caught red-handed looking for artifacts with an advanced tool for locating metal objects, particularly ancient coins. The suspect was remanded in a Jerusalem court, and prosecutors are preparing indictments,

Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of theft-prevention unit, said, “The gang, in its greed for money, caused damage to a large number of archaeological sites in the Jerusalem Hills, including destruction of pieces of our historic puzzle. The Jerusalem Hills, and Nahal Soreq in particular, are rich in archaeological artifacts that are evidence of varied cultures and the history of Israel, and two of these sites were damaged over the weekend,”

IAA spokesmen also told Tazpit News Agency, that the Antiquities Authority is investing resources to protect the inheritance of the Land of Israel and emphasized that digging in archaeological sites without permission is a serious crime that can land culprits In prison or up to five years.

The IAA said it hopes that the arrest will help put an end to the latest wave of thievery of Israel’s ancient history.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Highway Construction Uncovers Spectacular 1500-Year-old Mosaic

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Excavations on the route of a new superhighway north of Be’er Sheva have uncovered a spectacular 1,500-year-old mosaic in the field of a kibbutz, providing vacationers for those with an extended Shavuot holiday to view the latest discovery.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Cross-Israel Highway Company, which operates “Kvish 6,” or Highway 6,  is opening  the excavation free of Charge on Thursday morning until noon, when schools and man Yom Ha’atzmaut government offices are closed as an extra day off following Shavuot. The Jewish holiday, also known as Pentecost, is celebrated only one day in Israel but two days outside the country.

The colorful dating to the Byzantine period between the 4th and 6th centuries was exposed in recent weeks in the fields of Kibbutz Bet Kama, located approximately 15 miles north of Be’er Sheva and 50 miles south of Tel Aviv.

During the Byzantine period Jewish and Christian settlements in the region were located next to each other. A synagogue and ritual bath (mikveh) were exposed in two nearby ancient Jewish communities

Before road builders can start getting ready to pave the extension of the highway from north of Beit Kama to a junction only 10 miles north of Be’er Sheva, excavations are carried out to determine if there are historical treasures underground. The archaeological site covers 1.5 acres on kibbutz farmland.

Several astounding finds already have been declared by the IAA, but the mosaic is one of the most spectacular of its kind in the country.

The main building at the site was a large hall 12 meters long by 8.5 meters wide and its ceiling was apparently covered with roof tiles. The hall’s impressive opening and the breathtaking mosaic that adorns its floor suggest that the structure was a public building.

The well-preserved mosaic is decorated with geometric patterns and its corners are enhanced with amphorae – jars used to transport wine – a pair of peacocks, and a pair of doves pecking at grapes on a tendril. These are common designs that are known from this period; however, what makes this mosaic unique is the large number of motifs that were incorporated in one carpet.

Pools and a system of channels and pipes between them used to convey water were discovered in front of the building. Steps were exposed in one of the pools and its walls were treated with colored plaster, known as fresco.

Archaeologists in the Antiquities Authority are still trying to determine the purpose of the impressive public building and the pools whose construction required considerable economic resources.

The site seems to have consisted of a large estate that included a church, residential buildings and storerooms, a large cistern, a public building and pools surrounded by farmland. Presumably one of the structures served as an inn for travelers who visited the place.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/highway-construction-uncovers-spectacular-1500-year-old-mosaic/2013/05/12/

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