In Photos: 1,700-Year-Old Mosaic Once Adorned Israeli Courtyard

In 1996, a giant tile mosaic was unearthed in the modern-day city of Lod, once a prosperous district capital known as Diospolis. The 1,700-year-old mosaic has traveled the world, appearing in museum displays in places like New York City and Venice, Italy. And now, archaeologists in Lod have uncovered another giant mosaic that dates back to the Roman and Byzantine periods — this one portraying various scenes that depict predatory animals and their prey. [Read the full story about the newly unearthed mosaic]

Bringing history to light

Archaeologists discovered the large mosaic, which measures 36 feet (11 m) in width and 42 feet (13 m) in length, while breaking ground at the site of a new visitor's center in Lod. The building will stand near the area where the city's most famous ancient mosaic was discovered in 1996. (Credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Uncovering ancient wonders

Both mosaics originally served as floors in a large villa that once housed wealthy residents of the district capital of Diospolis. The first mosaic to be discovered is believed to have adorned the living room area of the home, and the newly uncovered decorative tiles were once the floor of a courtyard located at the southern end of the home. (Credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Nature's beauty

Neither mosaic features human figures nor religious symbols, which makes it difficult for archaeologists to pinpoint the story of the villa's owner. However, the tiles do depict animals that were commonly known to people who lived during the Roman and Byzantine periods in Israel. Some sections of tiles feature colorful birds, like this pair depicted atop a vase. (Credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Colorful images

There are many images of fish included in the mosaics. Common household items, like baskets and vases, also appear all over the tiled floor. (Credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

Gorgeous detail

Some of the animals depicted in the tiles are more exotic. This scene from the newly unearthed mosaic features a lioness expertly taking down her prey. (Credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

In its entirety

In addition to the new mosaic, archaeologists also found traces of ancient frescoes adorning the ancient villa's walls. These newly unearthed treasures are now on display to the public for a short period, but in the near future, they will be incorporated into the permanent exhibit at the planned visitor's center. (Credit: Nikki Davidov, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

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Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth is a former Live Science associate editor and current director of audience development at the Chamber of Commerce. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University. Elizabeth has traveled throughout the Americas, studying political systems and indigenous cultures and teaching English to students of all ages.