An Ancient Glass Mosaic from Caesarea (600 A.D.)

By: The Scribe on Wednesday, January 30, 2008



This 1,400-year-old glass mosaic was discovered in a palace located in northern Israel’s Caesarea.

Discovered in a palace from the ancient city of Caesarea, a 1,400-year-old glass mosaic is thought to be the only one of its kind to exist in the current archaeological record.

The city of Caesarea was located on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee, and had successive occupations during the Roman period and the Byzantine era, and it also contains some ruins from the Crusades. The history of the palace that was being excavated, where the mosaic was found, is relatively unknown – the owner of the palace has yet to be discovered, and the time of the building’s original construction remains to be seen. However, judging by the history of the surrounding area, the occupants were likely Christian.

The gleaming glass mosaic found here is unique because of the style of tiling used in its construction: there were two motifs used, both crosses and eight-petal rosettes, while some tiling was done with gold glass and other portions were done using the traditional, multicolored & opaque glass tiles.

Another view of the glass mosaic from Caesarea.

The mosaic’s preservation over the centuries was incredible, likely due to the way the panel fell: face down onto the earth, which protected the blue, green, and gold shades from damage and fading.

What the panel was originally used for is unknown – and whether it belonged to a window, or was simply a decorative piece, was unclear from the excavation context. Regardless, the mosaic is a one-of-a-kind discovery, and a clear testament to the high quality of craftsmanship at the time.

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