Nearly two millennia ago, it was the courtyard of a wealthy family who lived in the coastal plain of Palestine.
Today, it is public property in Israel.
An ornate, well-preserved mosaic in Lod, southeast of Tel Aviv, it was uncovered last year during excavations for a visitors’ center that is designed to display another nearby mosaic that had come to light two decades ago during construction of the Route 90 highway; the newly discovered mosaic went on public display for the first time recently, under the auspices of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The new mosaic, which measures 36-feet-by-42-feet, features the likeness of a lioness, flowers, fish and birds, baskets and vases, but no religious symbols or human figures. The site, archaeologists surmise, was the property of people who lived in the Roman or Byzantine period about 1,700 years ago, when Lod was known as Diospolis.
“The quality of the images portrayed in the mosaic indicates a highly developed artistic ability,” Amir Gorzalczany, excavation director, told the Jerusalem Post. “Numerous fragments of frescoes reflect the decoration and the meticulous and luxurious design, which are in the best tradition of the well-born of the period.”