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Gaza Farmer Accidentally Unearths Well-Preserved Byzantine Mosaic

While examining why some of the trees weren’t growing on his land.

Salman al-Nabahin is a Gaza farmer who accidentally discovered one of the most preserved archaeological finds in recent memory. Six months ago, Nabahin and his son were puzzled as to why some of the trees in their olive orchard were struggling to grow. Upon digging further to examine the root of the problem, Nabahin’s son struck a hard surface which turned out to be an ornate Byzantine mosaic.

Located at a Bureij refugee camp, roughly half a mile from the border of Israel, the mosaic features colorful depictions of animals, such as birds and rabbits. “I searched on the internet … We learnt it was [a] mosaic belonging to the Byzantine era,” said Nabahin in an interview, adding, “I see it as a treasure, dearer than a treasure. It isn’t personal, it belongs to every Palestinian.”

The Byzantine Empire (395 CE to 1453), also known as the Eastern Roman Empire, formed after the collapse of the Roman Empire primarily in its former Eastern provinces, such as Southern Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and Palestine.

Gaza has long been rich with archaeological sites and relics, but due to the lack of funding in the area, much of the preservation has come from international groups. “The archaeological discovery is still in its early stages and we await to know more of the secrets and civilization values,” said the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in a statement. “National research teams are working in partnership with international experts and scientists from the French Archaeology School.”

In related news, a prominent Egyptian archaeologist claims to have found the mummy of Queen Nefertiti.

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