BAR 35:06, Nov/Dec 2009
Masterpiece Rediscovers Light of Day
After 13 years, the Lod mosaic will finally have its day in the sun—literally. A remarkably well preserved mosaic floor, it was first discovered in 1996 during an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) excavation in anticipation of widening a road in the town of Lod, just a few miles southeast of Tel Aviv.
Tens of thousands of visitors flocked to see the exquisite artwork with its menagerie of masterfully crafted animals and marine life, as well as depictions of fishing and merchant vessels, and intricately braided borders. Experts date the mosaic, which covers more than 1,900 square feet, to the Roman period (late third or early fourth century A.D.), but little else is known about its context.
Not long after its discovery, the mosaic was reburied to preserve and protect it because sufficient money was not available to conserve it properly. Now a gift from Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation will allow for the re-excavation, conservation and development of the site. The process is scheduled to take two years, during which the mosaic will be removed from the site for work in the IAA labs and a portion will be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, before the entire mosaic is returned to its original location and opened to the public.