Cornerstone laid for the Shelby White and Leon Levy Mosaic
The cornerstone was recently laid for the Shelby White and Leon Levy Mosaic Archaeological Center which will hold the famous Lod mosaic, a world-class archaeological find. The center is being made possible through collaboration of the Leon Levy Foundation and Shelby White, the municipality of Lod and the Israel Antiquities Authority. This is a unique project to display a world class find in-situ, within a modern complex relating to the villa where this mosaic was found.
The famous Lod mosaic, which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors in the most important museums throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, and the Hermitage, is one of the most spectacular and most complete ever exposed in the world.
The mosaic was accidently found in 1996 by Mrs. Miriam Avisar from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), as part of a dig aimed to save archaeological finds in a square on HeKhalutz St. in Lod. The mosaic was dated to the Roman period (the end of the third century CE / beginning of the fourth century CE). Without a budget for preservation and conservation to display the site, the mosaic was covered at the end of the dig, until 2009 when the IAA found the funding – with a generous donation by the Leon Levy Foundation and Shelby White – to re-expose the mosaic and to remove it for conservation, and subsequently – to return it to the original site at the “Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeology Center”.
The mosaic, extraordinary in its quality, its depicted subject matters and preservation, actually served as the floor of a living room villa, which was part of a wealthy housing complex, erected in Lod during the Byzantine period. It is 17m long and 9m wide, and iscomposed of colorful mosaic carpets where mammals, birds, fish, flora and even sailing vessels are depicted in great detail. The design is influenced by north African mosaics. It is interesting to note that unlike other mosaics found from that period, there are no human figures. South of the main mosaic a second colorful mosaic was found which was also part of the villa, and will also be incorporated in the museum.
With the completion of the center, the mosaic will be on display to the general public. The goal is to provide the visitors access to view and experience the mosaic from various angles and to be impressed by its unique beauty.