The Israel Antiquities Authority displayed a rare 1,500-year-old mosaic, depicting a map with streets and buildings from ancient Egypt, on Tuesday, two years after it was discovered during an excavation in the South, conducted with the help of area school children. It will be shown to the public on October 1.
“This extraordinary mosaic served as the floor of a church dating to the Byzantine period,” said IAA spokeswoman Yoli Shwartz at the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park, where the relic was unearthed.
“It was removed from the site for the purpose of conservation, and was recently returned to its permanent location in the industrial park.”
The excavation of the mosaic was underwritten by the Y.S. Gat Company-Kiryat Gat Industrial Park Management Company. IAA archeologists Sa’ar Ganor and Rina Avner said the appearance of buildings on mosaic floors is a rare phenomenon in the country.
“The buildings are arranged along a main colonnaded street of a city, in a sort of ancient map,” said Avner. “A Greek inscription preserved alongside one of the buildings exposed in the mosaic indicates that the place which is depicted is the settlement Chortaso (Kartasa), in Egypt.”
According to Christian tradition, the archeologist continued, the prophet Habakkuk was buried in Chortaso.
“The appearance of this Egyptian city on the floor of the public building in Kiryat Gat might allude to the origin of the church’s congregation,” she contended.
The mosaic pavement, created by an artist who utilized tesserae (tiles) of 17 different colors, was part of the floor of a church that was destroyed, Ganor added.
“Two sections of the mosaic were preserved,” he said. “Animals, such as a rooster, deer and birds – and a special goblet with red fruits – are portrayed on one part of the pavement...
The investment in the raw materials and their quality are the best ever discovered in Israel.”
Additionally, a Nile River landscape in Egypt consisting of a boat with a rolled-up sail, streets and buildings, is depicted on a second relic, Ganor continued.
“The buildings are portrayed in detail and in three dimensions, and they have two to three stories, balconies, galleries, roofs, roof tiles and windows,” he said.
The mosaic will be displayed to the public for the first time during Succot at the “Factories from Within” festival, which will be held Thursday at the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park.
“On October 1, the Kiryat Gat Industrial Park will be turned into an event-filled arena of one-time performances in unconventional locations, with rare visits inside some of the best known factories in Israel,” said Shwartz.
“The children will enjoy performances of Adon Shoko, with songs by Arik Einstein, ‘Skhunat Hop’ and a variety of creative activities. And a unique offering of events awaits adults, with appearances by Shalom Hanoch and Moshe Levi in a performance of ‘Exit’ that will be held in a printer factory.”
The singer Dikla, she added, will appear in the park, and Hemi Rudner will hold a master’s class in the Negev Beer brewery.
Shwartz said the festival will also give the public a rare opportunity to “peek into the hidden world of the factories in one of the country’s most modern industrial areas.”
“The Factories from Within festival is the inaugural event slated to launch the 60th anniversary of Kiryat Gat, and the public is invited to enjoy the unique musical and visual experience,” she said.
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