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Byzantine church mosaic floor discovered in Jordan

Byzantine church mosaic floor discovered in Jordan


17 June 2013
An ancient mosaic floor belonging to a Byzantine-era church has been discovered by some looters near the Roman city of Jerash in Jordan.

"The remains were unearthed on private property located outside the ancient city of Jerash, around 40km north of Amman," said director of the French Archaeological Mission at Jerash Jacques Seigne.

Looters uncovered the mosaics accidentally when they were digging during the night, according to a report announced by the Department of Antiquities in Jerash. The floor, which is around five by seven meters and in full colour, features an unusual scene of men climbing up trees to hide from bears and lions.

An inscription was also found at the site that displays names of the patron and mosaic artist of the floor. According to the inscription, the experts believe that the findings date back to 589-590 CE.

The Department of Antiquities (DoA), presiding by Rafe Harahshah, managed a 45-day rescue operation to uncover and secure the site with the help of Seigne and his team. “The discovery of this church is very important because it may add to the argument that there was no systematic destruction of icons during the Iconoclast period,” Harahshah said.

“The Iconoclast period refers to two periods in the 8th and 9th centuries during which the Byzantine emperors and the Orthodox Church banned religious icons and consequently many religious images were systematically destroyed throughout the Byzantine Empire and beyond.”

Harahshah emphasized that though the rescue operation has been provided, serious decisions are required to be made for the protection and preservation of the site.

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