An ornate Byzantine floor mosaic depicting a variety of colourful birds and other animals has been discovered in Gaza after a Palestinian farmer tried to plant new trees on his land.
Salman al-Nabahin unearthed the relic six months ago while working in his olive orchard in Bureij refugee camp, about a kilometre (0.5 mile) from the border with Israel.
Trying to figure out why some trees had not properly taken root, Nabahin said he and his son began digging. Then the son’s axe hit something hard and unfamiliar in appearance. Mr Nabahin told Reuters news agency he had realised the mosaic belonged to the Byzantine era after searching on the internet. The Byzantine Empire was the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which can be traced back to 330 AD, and survived for more than a thousand years.
Experts have called it one of the greatest archaeological treasures ever found in Gaza.
The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the flooring included several mosaic panels depicting animals and other features of social life during the Byzantine era.
Whilst several discoveries have been made in recent years, due to a lack of funds and relevant professionals, Gaza has usually invited international groups to help with the process of excavation and preservation.
Image Credit: Reuters