Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brigham Young University, Trinity University (Texas), University of Toronto, and University of Wyoming believe that they have uncovered the first ancient synagogue mosaic to feature a non-biblical narrative.
In 2012, the team, led by Jodi Magness, Kenan distinguished professor for teaching excellence in early Judaism at Chapel Hill, excavated a mosaic at the 5th-century synagogue at Huqoq, in Israel’s Lower Galilee, which represented Samson tying torches to foxes’ tails, per Judges 15:4. Last year, the scholars found a second mosaic, which depicted Samson shouldering Gaza’s gate.
The third mosaic, which the researchers uncovered in 2013 and continued to unearth through this summer, has an entirely different iconographic program. The mosaic, which is split into three registers along the synagogue east aisle, shows spears piercing a bloody bull, and what a UNC press release describes as “a dying or dead soldier holding a shield.” Read more.
One of the oldest surviving complete Roman mosaics dating from 1,700 years ago, a spectacular discovery made in Lod in Israel, will go on show at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, UK. The exhibition Predators and Prey: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel is presented in association with the Israel Antiquities Authority and in collaboration with the British Museum, from 5 June – 2 November 2014.
Measuring eight metres long and four metres wide, and in exceptional condition, the Lod mosaic depicts a paradise of birds, animals, shells and fishes, including one of the earliest images of a rhinoceros and a giraffe, richly decorated with geometric patterns and set in lush landscapes. Read more.
The team headed by Dr Rina Avner has uncovered remains of a settlement dating to Byzantine period (4-6th centuries CE).
Among other finds, the site has yielded a main building – a large hall about 12 m long x 8.5 m wide.
“Its ceiling was apparently covered with roof tiles. The hall’s impressive opening and the breathtaking mosaic that adorns its floor suggest that the structure was a public building,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.
“The well-preserved mosaic is decorated with geometric patterns and its corners are enhanced with amphorae – jars used to transport wine, a pair of peacocks, and a pair of doves pecking at grapes on a tendril. These are common designs that are known from this period. However, what makes this mosaic unique is the large number of motifs that were incorporated in one carpet.” Read more.
A mosaic featuring an Eros figure fishing on horse has been found in the southern province of Adana’s Yumurtalık district. The half fish-half horse Eros, which is called Hippocampus in Greek mythology, is claimed to be the one and only such mosaic in the world.
Made up of marble, glass and stone, the mosaic is estimated to date back to the late Roman or early Byzantine era.
The Adana Museum Directorate has initiated archaeological excavations in the region where the mosaic was discovered. Read more.
The Dallas Museum of Art has returned an ancient mosaic to Turkish officials after discovering it was stolen.
The mosaic was returned to Turkish officials at a ceremony December 3 in Dallas. Museum officials also launched an international cultural exchange that will include loaning works of art and sharing expertise. The first initiative will be with Turkey.
The museum bought the roughly 5-foot-by-5-foot(1.5-by-1.5-meter) Orpheus Mosaic at a public auction in 1999.
The mosaic depicts the mythic poet Orpheus calming wild animals by playing his lyre. It originally decorated the floor of a Roman building. Read more.
Huqoq is an ancient Jewish village located approximately two to three miles west of Capernaum and Migdal (Magdala).
During the second season of excavations, the team discovered portions of a stunning mosaic floor decorating the interior of the synagogue building.
The mosaic, which is made of tiny colored stone cubes of the highest quality, includes a scene depicting Samson placing torches between the tails of foxes – as related in the book of Judges 15.
In another part of the mosaic, two human (apparently female) faces flank a circular medallion with a Hebrew inscription that refers to rewards for those who performgood deeds.
“This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another site just a couple of miles from Huqoq),” said Jodi Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Read more.
Security staff screening bags at the Italian capital’s main airports at Fiumicino and Ciampino have reported a surge in findings as x-ray scanners pick up the objects when luggage is screened and they in turn call police.
On Sunday, police in Rome put on display a vast collection of the cobblestones and artefacts that they have seized from passenger luggage in the first six months of this year.The majority of those caught are “northern Europeans” and several British tourists have been among those caught red handed and left embarrassed in front of other passengers when items are pulled from their luggage. Read more.
JERUSALEM (AP) - Vandals badly damaged a rare 1,600-year-old mosaic in the northern Israeli city of Tiberias that formed the floor of an ancient synagogue, smashing parts to rubble and scrawling graffiti, antiquity officials said Tuesday.
Experts suspect extremist Jews who object, sometimes violently, to excavations they claim involve ancient grave sites. There was no claim of responsibility. Police are investigating.
Guards found the damage on Tuesday morning, said archeologists involved in the site.
The mosaic, dating 400 years after the birth of Jesus, was one of the best preserved and beautiful of its period, according to archaeologists.
It featured illustrated zodiac signs and the traditional symbolism of a fourth-century synagogue: ritual candelabras and palm fronds. The synagogue’s ruins, including its ancient mosaic floor, were in a fenced-off area of a national park in Tiberias, next to the Sea of Galilee. Read more.