Lod (Lydda) is a city with over 3.5 thousand years of the registered history, and the only one in the Holy Land, which has never been abandoned. The first human settlement in the area dates from over 8,500 years ago. In Roman time Lydda was one of the most important and prospering merchant cities of Palestine.
"Baybars' Bridge" in Lod, 13 Century
Lod is also the birth and burial place of the famous St. George, an early Christian Martyr, who is considered a patron saint of many countries and cities around the Christian world.
St. George and St. George's Church in Lod
In 1996, a rare and beautiful mosaic was unexpectedly discovered in Lod during work to save archaeological artifacts prior to municipal roadworks. Since then, it is called worldwide “The Lod Mosaic”.
Touring the Museum
The Lod Mosaic was a part of the late Roman or early Byzantine times villa and dates to the end of the 3rd or the beginning of the 4th century CE. The villa apparently belonged to a high-ranking person, such as a merchant or an influential public figure.
There is no description, and therefore it is hard to determine the religious and ethnic identity of the villa’s owner. Still, while the content and style of the mosaic reflect a strong Roman influence, the lack of human figures hints at the Christian, Jewish or Samaritan identity of the owner.
The huge mosaic measures about 17 meters by 9 meters wide and contains around 2.4 million tiles that together create colorful stone carpet with detailed depictions of animals, plants and marine vessels, with no religious symbolism at all.
Mosaic floor overview
The great Lod Mosaic is significant for several reasons. In striking contrast to most of the mosaics of Palestine in the Late Roman period, it reflects strong ties with the North Africa. The usual focus on Greek mythology gave here way to other themes, such as animal games that took place in the arena of an amphitheater.
Also, the basket full of fish that appears in the mosaic is a motif associated with Roman North Africa, while the two boats in the marine panel are of a type of merchant vessel common in the western Mediterranean.
The combination of marine and safari scenes, make the Lod Mosaic unique compared to many other mosaics of that period. In addition, animals such as rhinoceroses and giraffes were rarely depicted in ancient art, yet are highlighted as the center of the Lod Mosaic.
Mosaics - animals and fish
Beyond natural animals, the Lod Mosaic includes the mythical creature (“Ketos”) in a large expanse of water, which may represent the distant lands and creatures found in and beyond the “Oceanus”, an ocean that was believed to surround the ancient world.
"Kitos" Ocean beast
Since its discovery and restoration, the mosaic has been exhibited in important museums and cultural centers in Israel and internationally, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the Altes Museum in Berlin and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Nearly 2.5 million people saw the mosaic as it travelled around the world. And now it is finally back home and is open for the Israelis and tourists.