Haaretz describes one of the most spectacular mosaics ever discovered in Israel. The masterpiece was composed of 2 million stones.
The Lod mosaic has earned its place of honor outside the conservation laboratory of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The laboratory, in the courtyard of the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, contains hundreds of mosaics collected over about a century of archaeological exploration in Israel. But the 180-square-meter Lod mosaic, with its dozens of meticulously executed animal images enclosed in spectacular geometric patterns, is the jewel in the crown.
The artist who made it some 1,800 years ago was apparently the greatest mosaic artist ever to work in this land.
The Lod mosaic was found 16 years ago when a tractor hit it by accident. An Israel Antiquities Authority inspector saw the very tip of a panther’s tail, and stopped the work. Archaeologist Miriam Avissar started excavating, and slowly but surely the treasure emerged: an elephant trapped in a hunter’s net, a giraffe (mistakenly sporting antlers), lions, ducks, fish, deer, a peacock, wolves and snakes. Ships also appeared. Some of the animals are hunting – a panther holds a bleeding deer, a snake swallows a fish, even a little vegetarian rabbit is seen snacking on a cluster of grapes it seems to be sharing with a wolf.
The mosaic was covered until three years ago, when the antiquities authority and the Lod municipality brought it to light, invited the public to see it – and then removed it. Parts have been sent abroad to raise funds for a future museum to house it. It has been displayed in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum, and the Field Museum in Chicago.
The full article, along with a series of photos, is here. We noted this discovery back in June 2009 and October 2009.
HT: Joseph Lauer
UPDATE (4/3): Tom Powers observes that the photo below is not the Lod mosaic but another found near Lachish. See Tom’s post for images of the Lod mosaic.