1500-Year-Old Mosaic Map Found

The artwork shows buildings arranged along a main street of a city.

A rare 1,500-year-old mosaic discovered in Israel that unusually depicts a map with streets and buildings will be revealed for the first time tomorrow.

Painstakingly restored, the mosaic measures about 3.5 meters (11.4 feet) by 3.5 meters and was found two years ago in an industrial park in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Gat.

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, it adorned the floor of a church dating to the Byzantine period. The church did not survive, but the mosaic was excavated and moved for restoration.

Stunning Byzantine Mosaic Uncovered in Israel

Intriguingly, the artwork shows buildings arranged along a main colonnaded street of a city. Buildings are portrayed in detail and in three dimensions, and have two–three stories, balconies and galleries, roof tiles and windows.

"The appearance of buildings on mosaic floors is a rare phenomenon in Israel," the archaeologists involved in the excavation, Sa'ar Ganor and Rina Avner of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

A closer inspection revealed a Greek inscription alongside one of the buildings. It pointed to the place depicted in the mosaic: the settlement Chortaso, in Egypt.

"According to Christian tradition, the prophet Habakkuk was buried there. The appearance of this Egyptian city on the floor of the public building in Qiryat Gat might allude to the origin of the church's congregation," Ganor and Avner said.

Photos: Greek God Hermes Featured in Ancient Mosaic

They noted the artist used tesserae (tiles) of 17 different colors in preparing the elaborate mosaic.

Two sections of the mosaic were preserved. One shows animals such as a rooster, deer and birds and a goblet with red fruits, the other depicts the Egyptian settlement, complete with streets, buildings and a Nile River landscape boasting a boat with a rolled-up sail.

"The investment in the raw materials and their quality are the best ever discovered in Israel," Ganor said.

The mosaic has now been returned to its original place in the industrial park, where it will be unveiled during the "Factories from Within" festival.

Restoring the mosaic.

A stunning mosaic floor uncovered at Amphipolis in northern Greece, shows the Greek god Hermes as a charioteer, leading a bearded man to the Underworld. Hermes wears a petasos on his head, a cloak, winged sandals and holds a caduceus, a winged staff with two snakes wrapped around it.

The mosaic covers the whole floor of a chamber -- a 14.7-foot wide by 9.8-foot long area. A large portion of the middle section is missing, however, archaeologists have found many pieces of the damaged area and will try to puzzle the floor back together.

A bearded passenger on the chariot wears a laurel wreath and has just the left side of face showing. Archaeologists believe the man to be Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, who had lost his right eye and also won a wreath at an Olympic game.

Two white horses pull the chariot bound for the banks of the river Styx.