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Israeli archaeologists uncover rare 1.500-year-old Greek mosaic (PHOTOS)

A rare discovery of an ancient relic & a historic document in one

A 1.500-year-old mosaic floor with a Greek inscription has been uncovered during works to install communications cables in Jerusalem’s Old City – a rare discovery of an ancient relic and an historic document in one.

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The inscription cites 6th-century Roman emperor Justinian as well as Constantine, who served as abbot of a church founded by Justinian in Jerusalem. Archaeologists believe it will help them to understand Justinian’s building projects in the city.

The full inscription reads: “The most pious Roman emperor Flavius Justinian and the most God-loving priest and abbot, Constantine, erected the building in which (this mosaic) sat during the 14th indiction.”

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Indiction is an ancient method of counting years that was used for taxation purposes. Archaeologists said the inscription suggests the mosaic dated to the year 550/551 AD.

Justinian was one of the most important rulers of the Byzantine era. In 543 AD he established the Nea Church in Jerusalem – one of the biggest Christian churches in the eastern Roman Empire and the largest in Jerusalem at the time.

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“The fact that the inscription survived is an archaeological miracle,” David Gellman, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

“Every archaeologist dreams of finding an inscription in their excavations, especially one so well preserved and almost entirely intact.”

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Researchers believe that the building of which the mosaic was once part, located beside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, was used as a hostel for pilgrims.

The mosaic, which was unveiled to the media on Wednesday, was discovered earlier this summer. Conservation experts have removed the mosaic and are treating it in a specialist workshop.

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