In Lod, the “Shelby White and Leon Levy Mosaic Archaeological Center Lod” opened today with a ceremony in the presence of the donor (Shelby White), Lod Mayor Adv. Yair Revivo, Eli Escozido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and other dignitaries.
The new Visitor Center features a magnificent mosaic about 1700 years old, one of the most beautiful in the world that has ever been unveiled.
The mosaic was discovered in Lod in 1996 by the late IAA archaeologist Miriam Avishar during an archeological excavation before the expansion of Hechalutz Street in the city.
It dates to the Roman period – late 3rd or early 4th century CE. The mosaic was covered at the end of the excavation, a budget was found for its re-exposure and removal for preservation, and finally for its return to the site as an archeological center open to the public.
The mosaic is exceptional in the quality of its construction, its contents and its state of preservation.
It served as the floor of the villa’s lounge hall, which was part of a neighborhood of wealthy houses in Lod during the Roman and Byzantine periods.
The mosaic is c. 17 meters long and c. 9 meters wide, and consists of colorful “rugs” that describe in detail mammals, birds, fish, plant species and even vessels. Its design is influenced by the mosaics of North Africa.
It is also interesting to note that unlike other mosaics from the period, it does not feature descriptions of humans.
During the construction of the mosaic center, the Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled another colorful mosaic, which was part of the villa’s courtyard. This too was incorporated in the center and is part of the visit experience.