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Rare Roman Period Frescoes Discovered in Israel

Roman period fresco from the second century CE Roman period fresco from the Second Century CE(Photo: G. Laron/ASHERNET)

Beautiful frescoes used to decorate the Zippori urban center for the Jews of Galilee during the Roman period. Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered more mosaic fragments from this center to add to their collection.

A team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has discovered hundreds of fragments belonging to frescoes from the Roman period, in the Zippori National Park. The fragments, which contain figurative images, floral patterns and geometric motifs, shed light on Zippori (Sepphoris), which was an important urban center for the Jews of the Galilee during the Roman and Byzantine periods…

The frescoes decorated a monumental building that was erected in the early second century CE north of the decumanus, a colonnaded street that cut across the city from east to west and continued to the foot of the Acropolis. The building, whose function is not clear at this stage of excavation, spread over a wide area, and the nature of the artifacts discovered indicate that it was an important public building. In the center of the building was a stone-paved courtyard and side portico decorated with stucco. West and north of the courtyard, several underground vaults were discovered. Some of these were used as water cisterns and were of high quality construction. The monumental building was built on the slope and the vaults were designed to allow the construction of the superstructure located on the level of the decumanus…

The discovery in Zippori is unique and provides new information regarding murals in Roman Palestine.  Zippori is well known for its unique mosaics. The newly discovered frescos are now added to the city’s rich material culture. While the earliest mosaics discovered at the site date to around 200 CE, the ancient frescoes precede them by about a hundred years and are thus of great importance.


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