Throughout history, many significant historical discoveries have been made by accident. The Lod Mosaic, found in Israel, is one of these accidental discoveries. Found by construction workers in 1996, this amazingly well-preserved mosaic stands out above much of the other Roman artwork that has been discovered during construction and renovation in well-established cities that lie over important sites in the ancient world.
The Mosaic’s Discovery
The Lod Mosaic was discovered in 1996 during a simple construction project. A construction crew prepping the area for a planned widening of the adjacent highway stumbled upon a portion of a mosaic, which was discovered to be part of a series of mosaic floors measuring 50 feet long by 27 feet wide. This mosaic has been dated to the year 300 A.D., and is believed to have graced the floor of an affluent Roman home. Because of its shape and size, archaeologists believe that Lod Mosaic may have made up the flooring in the areas of the home meant for entertaining and reception. Lod, which was known to the ancient world as Lydda, was conquered by the Romans in 66 A.D. and became a Roman colony in 200 A.D.; the city remained under Roman rule until it was lost to Arab forces in 636 A.D.
The Mosaic’s Preservation
Excavation of the Lod Mosaic began in 1996, immediately following its discovery. For a time, the mosaic was left in place and preserved as a historical site, but the decision was made to move the mosaic and continue excavating the surrounding area in the early 2000s. In 2009, the mosaic was carefully cut into three large pieces and removed from the ground for exhibition in New York’s Museum of Metropolitan Art in 2010. After a time at the Met, the mosaic has been traveling throughout the United States for display as further excavation of the original site has uncovered additional mosaic floors and artifacts dating to the same time. The mosaic will eventually return to Lod for permanent display.
This article is part of our STRANGE THINGS FOUND DURING HOME RENOVATIONS blog series.