Stones and water in the Holy Land

Image

A dove pecks at grapes in a mosaic recently discovered in southern Israel. (Yael Yolovitch)

THE BEAUTY BENEATH OUR FEET

When Jacques Neguer, the Israel Antiquities Authority’s head of art conservation, told me that the Holy Land has 7,000 sites that contain mosaics, the number seemed hard to believe. He went on to say that the total area of these mosaics is more than 50,000 square meters (more than 12 acres). Beit She’an alone has 10,000 sq. m and Caesarea has 4,000 sq. m. Some of these mosaics are very basic, but some rival in quality the finest such works found in Italy, Greece and other countries.

And more mosaics, some of them spectacular, keep being uncovered here. The most recent is in Kibbutz Beit Kama, about 90 minutes’ drive southwest of Jerusalem. A Byzantine settlement (from the fourth to the sixth centuries CE) covering about 1.5 acres was found there in the course of construction of an interchange.

The mosaic was the floor of the 1,100 sq. ft. main building. It has rich geometric patterns and its corners have amphorae (jars for transporting wine), a pair of peacocks, and a pair of doves pecking at grapes on a tendril. The designs are not unusual, but the combination of a large number of them in a single mosaic is very rare.

Archaeologists are still puzzled by the presence of pools and a system of channels and pipes connecting them in front of the building, in what they believe was a Christian settlement. The excavation was directed by the IAA’s Dr. Rina Avner.

 

AND A CHILD FLOWED INTO THE WORLD

Yarden didn’t just flow into the world, she gushed in. First she knocked politely on the sluice gates, and then she just surged in. Her mother, Liat, didn’t even make it to the front door of her house to leave for the hospital.

If an online etymology is to be believed, Yarden (the Hebrew name for the Jordan River) is derived from the Hebrew root yarad, which means “descend,” or in the case of the river, “flow down.”

So, welcome, Yarden. We hope the world welcomes you with the same eagerness with which you flowed into it on the morning of May 11. We certainly do.

 

Text copyright 2013 by Esther Hecht. Photograph copyright 2013 by Yael Yolovitch. No part of the text may be used without written permission of the author.

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6 Responses to “Stones and water in the Holy Land”

  1. Judy Labensohn Says:

    I take it Yarden is your new granddaughter. Right? So, Mazal Tov! What a birth. You raise many more questions than you answer.

  2. Sandi Says:

    Yarden??????

  3. David Bennett Says:

    How lovely – Mazel tov to you all.

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