Thursday, 3 February 2011

Beautiful Mosaic Uncovered at Zecharia's Tomb

Arutz 7 has a report on the Israel Antiquities Authority excavation of a previously hidden  mosaic. Specialists are busy preserving a huge mosaic floor as well as numerous artifacts found at the excavations in Hirbet Madras. The site was believed to be the location of a  large, important Jewish community from the Second Temple period destroyed during the Bar Kochba Revolt in 135 CE. It has also been identified by scholars as the residence and tomb of Zecharia.

In the 1980s, a lintel bearing a unique decoration discovered at the site was found to be identical to a lintel from the Hirbet Nevoraya synagogue in the north of Israel. At the time, Professor Amos Kloner and the late Dr. Zvi Ilan theorized that an ancient Jewish synagogue was located nearby.

In the wake of the illicit excavations by antiquities robbers, the lintel was rediscovered by inspectors from the Israel Antiquities Authority Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Theft. A legitimate excavation of the site soon followed, with the aim of revealing the secrets of the monumental building to which the lintel belonged.

All of the floors in the building were adorned with spectacular mosaics decorated with fauna and floral patterns and geometric designs, many of which were extraordinarily well preserved, officials said. Numerous other artifacts were discovered in a subterranean complex hidden beneath the entire structure that featured many rooms, water installations, store rooms and traps. 

Among the items found in the rooms were coins from the time of the Great Revolt (66-70 CE) and the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135 CE), as well as stone vessels, lamps and various Jewish pottery vessels from the period.

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