CAESAREA NATIONAL PARK, Israel – A team of archaeologists in Israel has unearthed a luxurious second or third-century Roman mosaic replete with characters posing in contemporary clothing, colorful geometric patterns and Greek inscriptions, offering a glimpse into the upper crust of a long-vanished society, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Thursday.
The intricately tiled floor, measuring 3.5 x 8 meters (12 x 26 feet), pre-dated the ruins of a Byzantine building under which it was discovered in Caesarea National Park, an area of archaeological interest on Israel’s Mediterranean coast.
“The figures, all males, wear togas and apparently belonged to the upper class,” said excavation directors Dr. Peter Gendelman and Dr. Uzi ‘Ad. “The central figure is frontal and the two other face him on either side,” they added in a statement released by the IAA.
“Who are they? That depends on what the building was used for, which is not yet clear. If the mosaic was part of a mansion, the figures may have been the owners. If this was a public building, they might have represented the donors of the mosaic or members of the city council,” the statement added.
The floor was unearthed as scientists worked on the remains of a building thought to have been a 1,500-year-old Byzantine agora – an upscale market-place and social spot.
Jacques Nagar, head of the IAA’s Art Conservation Department said that mosaic floors of such high quality are very rarely found in Israel and are more common in Antioch, modern-day Turkey.
The depiction of the male figures was framed by winding geometric patterns of ochre, brick red and black that were rendered vivid once again with the flick of an archaeologists sponge.