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Ancient Israeli mosaic returns home after years touring the world

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Workers perform last minute cleanup of the Lod Mosaic before the Israel Antiquities Authority inaugurates the Shelby White and Leon Levy Mosaic Lod Archeological Center in Lod, Israel, on Monday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/37c408e526722d6c867e6bdea95137b9/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Workers perform last minute cleanup of the Lod Mosaic before the Israel Antiquities Authority inaugurates the Shelby White and Leon Levy Mosaic Lod Archeological Center in Lod, Israel, on Monday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

June 27 (UPI) -- An ancient mosaic discovered in Israel more than 25 years ago, is now back in that country and went on display Monday after years spent touring prestigious museums around the world.

The massive 50-foot by 27-foot Roman Period mosaic's lengthy world tour included stops at the Louvre in Paris, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as institutions in Italy and several other countries.

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The ornamental living room floor of a Roman mansion dates back to approximately 300 A.D.

It was discovered by accident in 1996 during an excavation in the Israeli city of Lod. Authorities then opened viewing to the public during a single weekend, attracting more than 30,000 people before it was covered again to await funding for restoration.

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Further discoveries were made at the site in 2015 and 2018 but those mosaics have remained in place.

Once restoration was finished, the artwork, which shows animals, plants, fish and banquet-ware began its lengthy world tour. The piece was painstakingly disassembled, transported and reassembled countless times.

The art is now back in Israel, at its new permanent home not far from where it was originally discovered, at the purpose-built Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center, which officially opened Monday.

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"From the moment Leon and I saw this historic mosaic, we knew how important it was for the town of Lod and the world, and what it would do to make Lod a cultural center. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the restoration of the mosaic and the creation of this museum. Being here is a dream come true," said White in a statement issued by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

"It was such a thrill to see the name 'Lod' in the Metropolitan Museum," White told Haaretz during an interview Monday.

"The mosaic was found here and should stay here, after it flew around the world like a magic carpet."

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