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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘mosaic’

Baylor University Group Helps Unearth Ancient Mosaics, Coins, in Israeli Synagogue Ruins

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Ancient mosaics depicting Noah’s ark and the parting of the Red Sea have been discovered by university scholars and students excavating a synagogue in Israel that dates to the fifth century.

They also have uncovered coins spanning 2,300 years, says Nathan Elkins, Ph.D., an assistant professor of art history in Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences, Waco, Texas. He specializes in the study of coins and serves as numismatist at the site in a former village called Huqoq.

“The ancient coins . . . are critical for our knowledge of the monumental synagogue and the associated village,” Elkins, a member of a team of staff and students from Baylor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brigham Young University and the University of Toronto.

The mosaics decorate the floor of a synagogue that dates to the time when the area was ruled by the Roman Empire and when Christianity had become the empire’s official religion. The mosaics show an ark and pairs of animals including elephants, leopards, donkeys, snakes, bears, lions, ostriches, camels, sheep and goats.

The images also portray Pharaoh’s soldiers being swallowed by large fish, surrounded by overturned chariots with horses and chariot drivers.

Donkeys in Noah’s ark mosaic, Huqoq. / Courtesy

Donkeys in Noah’s ark mosaic, Huqoq. / Courtesy

Excavations have continued in the synagogue every summer since the first mosaics were found in 2012. Since then, mosaics depicting Samson and the foxes (as related in the Bible’s Judges 15:4), Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his shoulders (Judges 16:3), and a scene containing a Hebrew inscription surrounded by human figures, animals and mythological creatures have been uncovered.

The first non-biblical mosaic found in an ancient synagogue also was discovered at Huqoq, showing the legendary meeting between Alexander the Great and the Jewish high priest.

The mosaics have been removed from the site for conservation, and the excavated areas have been backfilled. Financial support for the 2016 excavations was provided by the National Geographic Society and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Excavations are scheduled to continue in the summer of 2017. For information and updates about the site and excavation, visit www.Huqoq.org.

Nathan Elkins, Ph.D. / Courtesy

Nathan Elkins, Ph.D. / Courtesy

In addition to working with the excavation, Elkins has advocated for protecting ancient coins from looting and smuggling. He recently spoke at the Public Hearing of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC He urged that the Memoranda of Understanding be renewed to prevent thefts of undocumented ancient coins and antiquities from Greece into the United States.

JNi.Media

Impressive Farmstead, Ancient Monastery, Colorful Mosaics Exposed at Rosh Ha’Ayin

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Impressive archaeological finds have been uncovered in extensive excavations being carried out by in Rosh Ha’Ayin by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The work is being done at the initiative of the Ministry of Construction and Housing and the city municipality prior to the building of new neighborhoods.

So far, scores of teenagers from preparatory programs and youth villages have participated in the excavation as part of the Israel Antiquities Authority policy of increasing public awareness of the state’s cultural heritage.

During the excavation an impressive 2,700 year old farmhouse (30 × 50 meters) and a 1,500-year-old church with colorful mosaics and inscriptions in it were uncovered.

Remains of the ancient farmstead and monastery uncovered in Rosh Ha'Ayin.

Remains of the ancient farmstead and monastery uncovered in Rosh Ha’Ayin.

According to Amit Shadman, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The large farmhouse was preserved to a height of more than two meters. The building is 2,700 years old and included twenty-four rooms constructed around a central courtyard.

“A large storage compartment (silo) meant to protect the grain was exposed in the courtyard. It seems that carbohydrates were as popular then as now, and the growing and processing of grain were fairly widespread in the rural-agricultural region. This was corroborated by other discoveries in the field that included numerous millstones which were used to grind the grain into flour.

“In addition, we found simple rock-hewn oil presses used in the production of olive oil”.

Among the other artifacts that were exposed in the farmhouse were two silver coins from the fourth century BCE that bear the likenesses of the goddess Athena and the Athenian owl.

According to Shadman, this farmstead and other similar ones operated for centuries until the region was abandoned during the Hellenistic period. Many hundreds of years later, in the fifth century CE, a Christian settlement wave arrived in the area and changed the landscape. Among other things, the rapid spread of Christianity at that time is apparent from the many impressive rural churches and monasteries that have been uncovered.

A monastery dating to the Byzantine period was exposed on one of the hills in the area and included a church, an oil press, residential quarters and stables equipped with mangers and troughs, etc. The floors of the church that was built in the monastery were made of colorful mosaics that included geometric and other designs.

In addition, a Greek inscription ascribed to a priest named Theodosius (a common name in the Byzantine period) was revealed in one of the mosaics.

“This place was built under Theodosius the priest. Peace be with you when you come, peace be with you when you go, Amen”.

Hana Levi Julian

Archaeologists Reveal Another Ancient, Luxurious Mosaic in Lod

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Second Impressive Mosaic Uncovered in Lod

A second impressive mosaic discovered by archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority is ready to be publicly displayed this week for the first time ever.

In June–November 2014 a team of IAA archaeologists directed a large excavation in the Neve Yerek neighborhood of Lod. It is an area where a breathtaking mosaic that served as the living room floor in a villa some 1,700 years ago was previously exposed.

Ancient Mosaic uncovered in Lod

Ancient Mosaic uncovered in Lod

The aim of the excavation was to prepare the ground for construction of a visitor center, to which the beautiful mosaic will be returned when it completes a series of exhibitions in museums around the world.

Important artifacts were discovered in the new excavation, the most notable of which is another colorful mosaic (11 × 13 m) that was the courtyard pavement of the magnificent villa that had the famous mosaic in its living room.

IAA mosaic of fish uncovered in Lod.

IAA mosaic of fish uncovered in Lod.

According to Dr. Amir Gorzalczany, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The villa we found was part of a neighborhood of affluent houses that stood here during the Roman and Byzantine periods. At that time Lod was called Diospolis and was the district capital, until it was replaced by Ramlaafter the Muslim conquest. The building was used for a very long time.”

The northern part of the complex, where the “Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center” will be constructed, was exposed when the Israel Antiquities Authority was inspecting development work being carried out in the early 1990s prior to the construction of Highway 90.

Detailed mosaic in Lod showing gazelles.

Detailed mosaic in Lod showing gazelles.

The mosaic, which was discovered and excavated at that time by the late Miriam Avissar, is among the most beautiful in the country, and has been exhibited in recent years in some of the world’s leading museums, including the Metropolitan, the Louvre and the State Hermitage etc. It is currently on display at the Cini Gallery in Venice, Italy, and in the future it will be housed in the main building to be erected in Lod.

The southern part of the complex was exposed in the current excavations. Among other things, it includes a large magnificent courtyard that is paved with a mosaic and surrounded by porticos (stoas–covered galleries open to the courtyard) whose ceiling was supported by columns. According to Dr. Gorzalczany, “The eastern part of the complex could not be completely exposed because it extends beneath modern buildings in the neighborhood.”

The scenes in this mosaic depict hunting and hunted animals, fish, flowers in baskets, vases and birds. Dr. Gorzalczany added, “The quality of the images portrayed in the mosaic indicates a highly developed artistic ability.”

Numerous fragments of frescoes (wall paintings prepared on wet plaster) reflect the decoration and the meticulous and luxurious design, which are in the best tradition of the well-born of the period. In light of the new discoveries, this part of the villa will also be incorporated in the visitor center.

Archaeologists Hagit Torgë, Uzi ‘Ad, Eriola Jakoel and Yossi Elisha of the Israel Antiquities Authority participated in the excavation.

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

Israeli 1,700-year-old Mosaic on Display at Louvre Museum

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world are expected to visit the spectacular 1,700-year-old Lod mosaic this summer at the Louvre, the first time an official Israeli exhibition will be displayed in the world’s most visited museum.

The spectacular Lod mosaic that was uncovered in an archaeological excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority is on display starting tomorrow (Thursday) in the Cour du Sphinx (Sphinx Courtyard) in the Roman wing of the museum until August 19.

Approximately 700,000 visitors have attended exhibitions at five museums in the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Only a number of private Israeli artists previously have been exhibited in the Louvre.

“This is a great honor and achievement for the Israel Antiquities Authority and a wonderful opportunity for the millions of visitors to the museum to see the masterpiece from Lod and learn about the archaeology and history of the Land of Israel,” said Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The 1,700 year old mosaic, one of the most magnificent and largest ever revealed in Israel, was uncovered in Lod, near Ben Gurion Airport, in 1996 and was covered over again in order to protect it.

In 2009, after obtaining the necessary funding to expose it, the Israel Antiquities Authority renewed the archaeological excavation there and removed the mosaic from the site in order to conserve it.

The mosaic constitutes a rare archaeological gem that is extraordinarily well-preserved. It measures approximately 180 square meters and is composed of colorful carpets that depict in detail mammals, birds, fish, flora and the sailing and merchant vessels that were used at that time. It is thought the mosaic floor was part of a villa that belonged to a wealthy person in the Roman period.

The Louvre is holding a festive opening event on Thursday, sponsored by the Israeli embassy in Paris.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israeli-1700-year-old-mosaic-on-display-at-louvre-museum/2013/05/22/

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