Archaeologists excavating in the coastal city of Caesarea have uncovered a colorful and sophisticated mosaic dating from the 2nd or 3rd centuries CE. Some 300 years later, a sort of Byzantine shopping mall had been built on top of it, obscuring it until now. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:
[This] is one of the few extant examples of a mosaic from this time period in Israel; its craftsmanship is compared by archaeologists to the fine artistry found in Antioch. . . . According to Peter Gendelman and Uzi Ad, the directors of the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, the mosaic . . . was once part of an even earlier building from approximately 1,800 years ago.
According to the archaeologists, the mosaic measures 3.5-by-8 meters and is “of a rare high quality.” . . . There are three figures depicted on the uncovered section, as well as typical multicolored geometric patterns, which were formed using small tesserae (mosaic pieces) placed densely at about 12,000 stones per square meter. . . .
Of potentially even more interest than the beautifully formed images is a long inscription in ancient Greek. It was unfortunately damaged by the Byzantine building constructed on top of it, but is being studied now by the epigrapher Leah Di Segni from the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology. . . .
The mosaic dates from when the area was the Roman Empire’s administrative center in the province of Judea.