We are thrilled that a recent tremendous gift from the Leon Levy Foundation and Shelby White, will allow the Israel Antiquities Authority to excavate, conserve and permanently display one of the most impressive and largest mosaics in the country. The exceptional, late 3rd Century CE mosaic, will be uncovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority in cooperation with the municipality of Lod and residents of the city, and presented to the public in an Archaeological Center that will be established on the site. When completed, the center will join a number of projects throughout Israel developed by the Israel Antiquities Authority for the exhibition and presentation of the archaeological heritage of the Land of Israel.
Thirteen years after one of the most beautiful mosaics ever to be seen in the country was covered over, the Israel Antiquities Authority, in cooperation with the municipality of Lod and its residents, is beginning an archaeological excavation that will re-expose the mosaic, once and for all. Some 30,000 people from all over the country visited the site during one weekend when the mosaic was on display to the public.
The 1,700 year old mosaic floor, which is one of the most magnificent and largest mosaics ever revealed in Israel, was first uncovered in the city of Lod in 1996. The mosaic is a real archaeological gem and extraordinarily well-preserved. It covers an area of approximately 1800 square feet and is composed of colored carpets that depict in detail mammals, birds, fish, a variety of flora and the sailing and merchant ships that were used at the time. The purpose of the building in which the mosaic floor was placed is not known.
This impressive discovery, the product of an excavation that was directed by archaeologist Miriam Avissar on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority prior to the widening of Ha-Halutz Street by the municipality of Lod, caused a wave of excitement in Israel. The discovery was widely reported in the media and tens of thousands of visitors came to see the mosaic. At the end of the excavation, the mosaic floor was covered in order to protect it until funding is available and a decision as to how to best present it to the public is made.
A recent, highly generous gift from the Leon Levy Foundation and Shelby White - Chairman of the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority and long time great supporters of archaeological projects in Israel and throughout the world, will enable the IAA to excavate, conserve and establish the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center on the site.
The mosaic is located in the eastern part of Lod, next to the entrance to the city from Ginnaton Junction. This junction is easily reached from Ben Gurion airport and from the country’s two main highways: Highway 1, which links Tel Aviv with Jerusalem, and Highway 6, which connects the north of the country with the south. The proximity of the site to the country’s main transportation arteries makes it highly accessible and will facilitate turning it into a site that is of interest to the entire country. The municipality, in conjunction with the Israel Antiquities Authority, plans to integrate it into a tourism circuit that will include a number of historic sites in the city.
The conservation and development work are scheduled to take approximately two years. During that period, a large section of the mosaic will be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and in several other American and European museums. The exhibition is part of our efforts to share the archaeological treasures from the Land of Israel with people around the world. At the end of the exhibitions the mosaic section will return to Lod and permanently placed in the new center.
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