An ancient mosaic floor of an ancient church found along the Israel National Trail adorned with colorful floral designs was been “re-uncovered” after 40 years. The floor was first discovered in the 1980s but was since covered over and not accessible. Now the Israel Antiquities Authority, together with the Shoham Local Council and with the help of volunteers, have prepared the site for visitors along the Israel National Trail.
Israel is not known as the Holy Land for nothing. The country is filled with the history of the world’s main religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Everywhere a person goes in Israel he could be standing on top of an as yet undiscovered ancient find left behind by someone from the Bible. And there is also a wealth of archeological evidence that teaches modern historians about the ancient Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and numerous other civilizations whose armies and peoples controlled the country at one point or another in ancient times.
For example, in February a rare gold bead from the end of the Roman era was discovered in the City of David in Jerusalem – located to the south of the Old City walls – by an Israeli teenager, a volunteer, while taking part in the sifting project at the Archaeological Experience at the Israel Antiquities Authority’s excavation of the Pilgrimage Road there. The bead was made from pure gold and dated to at least 1,600 years ago.
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And in January, a church dating back to the Byzantine era – dated to the 6th Century – was uncovered in Jericho. The discovery was said to be remarkable because the church’s floor with a mosaic depicting religious imagery remains largely intact.
As for the latest mosaic that was uncovered, it was found in a Roman-period rural villa along with agricultural processing installations and several buildings that served the ancient residents. In the Byzantine period, about 1,500 years ago, a church as built alongside the ancient road that connected the coastal area with the Judean Shephelah lowlands, now crossed by the modern Highway No. 6. Along the ancient road there were ancient “refreshing stations” every few kilometers. These sites offered the ancient travelers a place for a rest and for prayer, and for recovering their energy.
“When we first came to the site, the mosaic was covered over with earth and weeds. Over the last month we have been uncovering and cleaning up the site together with the local community,” said Yair Amitzur, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority Central Region Education Department. “We are working here amongst a carpet of flowering anemones. One can just imagine that the artist of the flower-adorned mosaic was inspired by the surroundings.”
The restoration and cleaning up of the site is being carried out by the Shoham community and by Israel Antiquities Authority volunteers from around the country in the context of ‘Good Deeds Day.’ The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Shoham Local Council have also erected a new seating area for the pleasure of the hikers and the local residents.