First Published: 2017-08-23

1,500 year old mosaic discovered in Jerusalem
Greek inscription cites 6th-century Roman emperor Justinian as well as Constantine, who served as abbot of a church founded by Justinian in Jerusalem.
Middle East Online

Conservation experts have removed the mosaic and are treating it in a specialist workshop.

OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM - A 1,500-year-old mosaic floor with a Greek inscription has been uncovered during works to install communications cables in occupied Jerusalem's Old City - a rare discovery of an ancient relic and an historic document in one.

The inscription cites 6th-century Roman emperor Justinian as well as Constantine, who served as abbot of a church founded by Justinian in Jerusalem. Archaeologists believe it will help them to understand Justinian's building projects in the city.

The full inscription reads: "The most pious Roman emperor Flavius Justinian and the most 6God-loving priest and abbot, Constantine, erected the building in which (this mosaic) sat during the 14th indiction." Indiction is an ancient method of counting years that was used for taxation purposes. Archaeologists said the inscription suggests the mosaic dated to the year 550/551 AD.

Justinian was one of the most important rulers of the Byzantine era. In 543 AD he established the Nea Church in Jerusalem - one of the biggest Christian churches in the eastern Roman Empire and the largest in Jerusalem at the time.

"The fact that the inscription survived is an archaeological miracle," David Gellman, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

"Every archaeologist dreams of finding an inscription in their excavations, especially one so well preserved and almost entirely intact." Researchers believe that the building of which the mosaic was once part, located beside the Old City's Damascus Gate, was used as a hostel for pilgrims.

The mosaic, which was unveiled to the media on Wednesday, was discovered earlier this summer. Conservation experts have removed the mosaic and are treating it in a specialist workshop.

 

Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

Hezbollah hails PM's suspension of resignation

Syrian opposition aims for unity at talks in Riyadh

Egypt police kill 3 Islamists in shootout

Turkey unsure if Assad to be part of Syria political transition

Migrant arrivals from Libya down since EU deal

Palestinian factions leave Cairo talks with little progress

Sudan’s Bashir looks to Putin for ‘protection’ from US aggression

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks