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Early medieval mosaics discovered under a palace near the Sea of Galilee



Vue aérienne de Tibériade depuis le mont Arbel.

Daniel Esparza - published on 10/17/22

The mosaics were found in a a settlement occupied by Christian or Jewish inhabitants, long before the palace was built.

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An excavation team from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) discovered early medieval mosaics in a residence near the 8th-century Ummayad palace of Khirbat al-Minya, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. According to the note published by, “There had already been a settlement occupied by Christian or Jewish inhabitants in the immediate vicinity long before the palace was built.”

Site director and archaeologist Professor Hans-Peter Kuhnen told that “this time we have really hit the jackpot with our excavations,” as they discovered that in the the Ummayad caliph al-Walid I (705-715) had commissioned the building of his palace (which included a mosque and a 15-meter-high gateway tower) not on an empty, unoccupied lot in the shore of the Sea of Galilee, but rather adjacent to (“and respectfully co-existing”) with a prior settlement, either Christian or Jewish.

The team found stone structures with plastered walls, colorful medieval mosaic floors, and (as is quite common in this kind of finding) a water cistern for domestic use. The plants portrayed in one of the mosaics are like the ones found in the so-called Nile-scene mosaics of the 5th and 6th centuries.

Late-antique churches and luxurious dwellings in cities of the same period were often decorated with this kind of scenes. What these medieval mosaics show is that “the settlement on the shores of the lake was already thriving centuries before the work on the caliph’s palace had commenced. Its original inhabitants were either Christians or Jews and they were subsequently joined by a small Islamic community,” as read in

You can read more here.

ArchaeologyHoly Land
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