Excavation continues at Byzantine archaeological site in Gaza, hoping for more findings

A man cleans parts of a Byzantine-era mosaic at Buraij refugee camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip, Sept. 21, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

by Sanaa Kamal

GAZA, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) — A Gaza-based excavation team continues its search in the archaeological site located in the Bureij refugee camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip, where rare Byzantine-era mosaic floors were freshly discovered.

Six months ago, Suleiman al-Nabahin, a farmer in his 50s, had found rare mosaic floors and pottery items by chance while he was plowing in his 450-square-meter agricultural land to plant a tree.

He told Xinhua that he was surprised with the findings and had expanded research at his farm.

A man cleans parts of a Byzantine-era mosaic at Buraij refugee camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip, Sept. 21, 2022. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

Several days later, the farmer found other three excavations in different areas, including mosaic panels, pottery, glass and clay pieces, and the remains of a granite column base.

“The mosaic panels are painted in several colors, including white, black, brown (brick) and green in addition to being inlaid with glass pieces,” said al-Nabahin.

Three months later, the farmer went to the Hamas-run Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities when he realized that he had discovered a “buried treasure of remains and mosaics.”

“A delegation from the ministry, including experts in archeology, came to my land, and they were amazed by the discovery,” he recalled.

He said he was happy about the discovery because “they are a Palestinian heritage, indicating the civilization on this land.”

Visitors roam the site of an ancient Byzantine church in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, on Jan. 24, 2022. In the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of the Gaza Strip, an ancient Byzantine church, which has been reconstructed into a public museum by the Hamas-run Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, was opened on Monday. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)

Jamal Abu Raida, director general of the ministry, told Xinhua that the ministry believed these floors were part of a Byzantine-era religious building dating back about 1,700 years.

He said that the drawings and inscriptions on the mosaic floors are similar to the mosaic drawings in the ancient Byzantine Church in Gaza, which was open to the public earlier this year.

In addition, he explained, there were “drawings of a group of animals that still exist and live in the Gaza Strip, which means that they embody the nature of life at that time.”

Palestinian archaeological experts work on restoring an old mosaic floor and a tomb at an archaeological site dating back to the Byzantine era in the town of Abasan east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on Dec. 20, 2021. (Photo by Yasser Qudih/Xinhua)

“Initial guesses indicate that the archaeological site was a temple belonging to the Christian religion at that time, and the temple usually follows a number of facilities close to it that are expected to be located in the place,” he added.

The ministry has placed some archaeological survey sensor devices near the location of the archaeological discovery, where remnants of archaeological walls were found.

Moreover, the technical teams are in the process of placing sensors on the northern side of the archaeological discovery to learn more about this discovery and its secrets, the official said.


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