Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Archaeologists in Israel have discovered an ancient Roman mosaic dating to the second or third century AD.
The mosaic features a Greek inscription and was part of an ancient building constructed during the Byzantine period. The building's remains and well-preserved mosaic were discovered during preparations for the construction of a promenade near the bridge entrance to Caesarea National Park in northwestern Israel.
Archaeologists believe the opulent building was part of an agora, a large outdoor gathering place and setting for shopping, socializing and cultural events.
The 3.5-by-8-meter mosaic features three figures, toga-wearing males, and traditional multicolored geometric patterns. The Greek inscription was damaged by construction built atop it.
Who are the figures in the mosaic?
"That depends on what the building was used for, which is not yet clear," Peter Gendelman and Uzi Ad, directors of the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a press release. "If the mosaic was part of a mansion, the figures may have been the owners. If this was a public building, they might have represented the donors of the mosaic or members of the city council."
Mosaics of such high artistic quality are rare. Similar mosaics are found in Turkey. The figures and patterns were created by the arrangement of tiny stones, some 12,000 stones per square meter.
Archaeologists are now working with the development corporation in charge of the promenade construction to ensure the mosaics preservation.
"I welcome the fruitful cooperation among all agencies responsible for the wonderful work in Caesarea," said Israel Hasson, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority. "Work over the past few years will make this city's magnificent heritage accessible to an even broader public and will restore Caesarea to its glory days as a thriving and cosmopolitan port city, rewarding all visitors with a rich cultural experience."