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Biblical Archaeology Review 48:4, Winter 2022

Lod Mosaic Center Opens

Following their whirlwind tour of major museums around the world, the ancient Lod mosaics have returned home to Israel. The mosaics—which date to the late third or early fourth century C.E.—are some of the most exquisite and best-preserved mosaics ever discovered in Israel. Now housed in the Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center on the same site where they were first discovered, these beautiful mosaics are Israel’s new must-see attraction.

Crafted toward the end of the Roman period, the mosaics originally paved the entry hall to an elite residence in a wealthy neighborhood of Lydda (Lod’s ancient name). The main mosaic floor (above) measures 56 by 30 feet and depicts wild animals, birds, fish, plants, fruits, and even sailing vessels. However, unlike other mosaics from the Roman era, there are no depictions of people within the scenes.

Little is known about the wealthy individual who commissioned the mosaic. As the mosaics lack anthropomorphic imagery, some think that the owner could have been Christian or Jewish, although much of the region’s Jewish population had been expelled following the Bar-Kokhba Revolt in the early second century. The diverse imagery and nautical scenes raise the possibility that the owner may have been a merchant with a close connection to the sea.

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