Salman al-Nabahin discovered the relic six months ago while working in his olive grove in the Bureij refugee camp, about one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the Israeli border.
Salman al-Nabahin discovered the mosaic six months ago while working in his olive grove. Credit: Ibrahim Dahman/CNN
Trying to figure out why some of the trees didn’t root properly, Nabahin said he and his son started digging. Then his son’s ax hit something hard and unfamiliar looking.
“I looked it up on the internet… we found out it was a mosaic from the Byzantine era,” said the father of seven, sitting next to his find. “I see it as a treasure, dearer than a treasure. It is not personal, it belongs to every Palestinian.”
Salman al-Nabahin’s son Ahmad Salman Nabahin hit the mosaic with an ax before finding it. Credit: Ibrahim Dahman/CNN
The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the pavement contained several mosaic panels depicting animals and other features of social life in the Byzantine period. The Byzantine Empire lasted from the split of the Roman Empire into the Eastern and Western Empires in 395 until it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
“The archaeological discovery is still at an early stage and we are waiting to learn more about the secrets and values of the civilization,” the ministry said in a statement. “National teams of researchers are collaborating with international experts and scientists from the French School of Archaeology.”
The mosaic panels depict animals and other aspects of life in the Byzantine period. Credit: Ibrahim Dahman/CNN
Gaza is rich in antiquity, having been an important trading center for the ancient Egyptian and Philistine civilizations mentioned in the Bible, until the Roman Empire and the Crusades.
Several discoveries have been made in recent years. But due to a lack of relevant funds and professionals, Gaza has usually invited international teams to help with the excavation and conservation process.