Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just Like at Shiloh - A Byzantine Mosaic


The planned walkway at the centre of the furious dispute over Jerusalem's holiest site could be further delayed by the discovery of a Byzantine mosaic.

The geometric patterned fragment was exposed by archaeological workers yesterday at the bottom of an underground shaft where one of the walkway pillars is intended to go, as The Independent examined excavation work in the area.

"We have a real time discovery," reported Gideon Avni, director of excavations and surveys at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Dr Avni said further excavations would now be needed to see whether the mosaic, probably from the fifth or sixth century AD, was part of a larger decorated room or house. He said it was too early to say whether the pillar would have to be moved. If the fragment turned out not to extend further, it could possibly be extracted and exhibited.

...And while archaeology in Jerusalem is often complicated by religious and political overtones, Dr Avni virtually ruled out the possibility that the digs will discover remnants of the Jewish temple period.

Pointing to arches from Ottoman and Mameluke structures below the ramp, he added: "I don't believe that they will even reach the early Islamic period."

Phooey on you Avni.

But if not, it's only because the Waqf trust carried them away after digging out for those two undergound mosques they illegally built.

1 comment:

Suzanne Pomeranz said...

I'm giving Avni the benefit of the doubt here, and suggesting that the reporter put his paragraphs in the wrong order... if a 5th or 6th century Byzantine mosaic was found, the archaeologists are already well PAST the first Islamic period, which began in only 638CE.

Under that mosaic and any other Byzantine-period finds will SURELY be walls and such from the 2nd Temple Herodian period.