Amazing Roman mosaics that date back 1,700 years have made their way back to Israel, where they were put on public exhibit for the first time on Monday after spending more than ten years traveling around the best museums in the world.
The mosaics were initially found in the central city of Lod in 1996, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the Israel Antiquities Authority fully uncovered the massive, well-preserved pieces of art.
The collection is 17 meters by 9 meters (56 feet by 30 feet). A variety of animals, including fish and birds as well as exotic species like an African elephant, a rhinoceros, and a giraffe, are depicted in the mosaics.
After Lod was rebuilt as the Roman city of Diospolis, archaeologists think the mosaics formerly adorned a wealthy villa in the third or fourth centuries.
The mosaics, however, lacked a permanent home for more than ten years as Israeli officials raised money for a museum. They were put on display at museums all over the world, including the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Louvre in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The Shelby White and Leon Levy Mosaic Lod Archaeological Center, the mosaics’ new home, offers interactive exhibitions and guided tours in Arabic, English, and Hebrew.
Residents of Lod, an Arab and Jewish city that saw episodes of sectarian violence in May 2021 during Israel’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are entitled to free entrance to the museum.