6th century monastery with intricate mosaic floors discovered in Israel

A Byzantine period monastery with impressive mosaic floors was uncovered in Israel, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The ancient structure measures at approximately 65 by 115 feet and contains a prayer hall and dining room lined with detailed mosaic carpets.

"It seems that this monastery, located near the Byzantine settlement of Horbat Hur, is one monastery in a series of monasteries situated alongside a road that linked Transjordan with the Be’er Sheva‘ Valley," excavation director Daniel Varga said in a press release.

The mosaic floors include four Greek dedicatory inscriptions signifying the names of the monastery's abbots: Eliyahu, Nonus, Solomon and Ilrion.

The inscriptions also contain the dates of the pavements in the various halls which helped the archaeologists in dating the monastery to the second half of the sixth century.

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In addition to the inscriptions, various pottery assemblages including jars, cooking pots, kraters and bowls were discovered in the monastery. Glass vessels and coins were also uncovered which indicate a rich material culture in the monastery.

The discovery was made during a routine salvage excavation conducted by the IAA prior to the construction of an interchange on Israel's Highway 31 in the Negev desert.

The IAA along with the Netivei Israel Company, Hura municipality and Wadi ‘Attir Association have plans to relocate the monastery and its mosaics to the Wadi ‘Attir agricultural/tourism project adjacent to Hura.