'Sepectacular' discovery of vast 5th-7th century mosaics in Gaza

Author: TEI Staff

Gaza Discovery

The mosaics could have adorned the floor of a church or a private villa, according to René Elter, an archeologist from the French Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem who has worked in Gaza.

Mosaics dating from the 5th to 7th centuries were unearthed by farmers in Gaza refugee camp in an orchard in the central Gaza Strip. They were discovered by Palestinian farmer Salman al-Nabahin and his son as they were planting an olive tree on their land last spring.

Although parts of the mosaic had been damaged by the roots of old olive trees, these brightly colored mosaics featuring 17 iconographies of beasts and birds are “in perfect state of conservation”, declared Elter, adding that it is "the most beautiful mosaic floor" found in Palestine.

"This is a first: on the one hand, this mosaic is very beautiful for the finesse of the work and on the other hand, it is exceptional because it is in a state of conservation that we do not have elsewhere in Gaza. added Elter, whose team examined the discovery.

"It is a work of excellent quality, they used materials that were certainly relatively expensive," said the French archeologist, noting the "shimmering colors" of the work, which he estimates dates from the 5th to the 7th century.

But Elter expressed concern that the discovery is in “immediate danger” because its closeness to the Israeli fence. "It is imperative to quickly organize an emergency rescue intervention," he says.

In January, construction workers discovered the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman necropolis in Jabalia, in the north of the Palestinian enclave with a population of 2.3 million.