Photo Credit: Nicki Davidov / IAA
A mosaic panel featuring the creatures of the sea.

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 Lod mosaic “in situ”

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.

Conservation workers carefully restoring the Lod mosaic

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.

Mosaic viewed at the new museum

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.

One of the most vibrant panels of the Lod mosaic.

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.

A mosaic panel featuring the creatures of the sea.

It is also interesting to note that unlike other mosaics from the period, it does not feature descriptions of humans.

One of the mosaic panels features an intricate interwoven design that hints at the wealth and luxury enjoyed in this region.

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.

The woman who made it possible: Ms. Shelby White.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.