Archaeological excavations carried out in the past month by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of Lod, in preparation for the construction of a Visitors’ Center that will exhibit mosaics previously exposed here several years ago, have revealed an additional colorful mosaic dating from the Roman period. The mosaic was carefully removed for conservation in order for construction of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center to continue.
In 1996, road workers discovered by chance a mosaic floor at the entrance to Lod, adjacent to the Ginnaton Junction. In the subsequent excavation, directed by the late IAA archaeologist Dr. Miriam Avissar, the remains of a luxurious villa with exceptionally well-preserved, unique mosaic floors dating to the 4th century CE were found. According to Dr. Amir Gorzalczany, the director of the present excavation, “the excavations at the site exposed a villa that included a large luxurious mosaic-paved reception room triclinium, and an internal columned courtyard, also with mosaics, and a water system. We found evidence for Mediterranean luxury that characterized the Roman empire, including attributes such as fresco wall paintings”.
The extraordinary mosaics uncovered in the Lod villa depict realistic and imaginary animals, complex geometric designs and marine scenes, incorporating a multitude of fish and two ships. The variety of colors, the extraordinary quality and the exceptional state of preservation led to local and world-wide interest. The central panel of the mosaic served as a worldwide ambassador for Israel, as the mosaic was exhibited in special exhibitions in museums many of which had never before borrowed artifacts from Israel.
The professional treatment of the mosaic in the course of its exposure and its removal from the site for conservation, are carried out by the Conservation Department of the IAA, under the supervision of the Head of the Artistic Conservation Branch Jacques Neguer, and the Head of the Mosaics Department Galeb Abu-Diab.
The Visitors’ Center of Lod Is part of the wider plan to develop other parts of the historic city of Lod as a touristic route. The mosaic is located in the northeast of Lod, next to the Ginnaton Junction. It is accessible from the Ben Gurion International Airport, and from the two main arteries of the country, the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Highway No. 1, and the north to south highway No. 6. The Visitors’ Center is planned to open within two years.
Photography: Niki Davidov, Israel Antiquities Authority
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)