Jerusalem, May 14: Archaeologists have found a mosaic dating back around 1,500 years in an area in the northern part of Be'er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.
"The well-preserved mosaic is decorated with geometric patterns and its corners are enhanced with amphorae (jars used to transport wine), a pair of peacocks, and a pair of doves pecking at grapes on a tendril. These are common designs that are known from this period; however, what makes this mosaic unique is the large number of motifs that were incorporated in one carpet," the authority said.
The colourful mosaic, which dates back to the Byzantine period, was discovered in the fields of Kibbutz Bet Qama, the authority said in a statement.
"The main building at the site was a large hall 12 meters long by 8.5 meters wide and its ceiling was apparently covered with roof tiles. The hall's impressive opening and the breathtaking mosaic that adorns its floor suggest that the structure was a public building," the authority said.
Archaeologists said the site would have required extensive resources to develop at the time it was built.
"The site, which was located along an ancient road that ran north from Be'er Sheva, seems to have consisted of a large estate that included a church, residential buildings and storerooms, a large cistern, a public building and pools surrounded by farmland.
Presumably, one of the structures served as an inn for travellers who visited the place," the authority said. The estate was located between Jewish and Christian settlements.