Byzantine monastery of the 6th century excavated in a desert
A Byzantine monastery was discovered in the northern Negev was revealed to the public on Tuesday. The monastery, excavated near the entrance to the Bedouin village of Hura by the Israel Antiquities Authority, was uncovered during the construction of a new interchange on the road to the village, which was established in 1989 as part of Israeli efforts to settle the semi-nomadic Bedouin.
The floor of the prayer hall is decorated with leaves in different colors, framed by three borders with three different patterns.
The floor of the dining hall is decorated with colorful birds, pitchers, amphorae, baskets, flowers, leaves and other geometric shapes, with a diamond-shaped pattern in the background.
The inscriptions indicate that the monastery’s mosaic floors were laid down during the second half of the 6th century.
The building collapsed at the end of the Byzantine period. After that, the rooms in its eastern wing, which had a white mosaic floor, were mostly destroyed by landslides. The western wing survived, and was revealed Tuesday.
Though the press was invited to photograph the site, it was not yet opened to the public, for safety reasons.
The Israel Antiquities Authority, National Roads Company, Hura Municipality and Wadi Atir Foundation intend to transfer the monastery and mosaic floors to Wadi Atir, a Bedouin-built farm and tourist site in the Negev.