1500-Year-Old Monastery with Stunning Mosaics Discovered in Israel
A Byzantine period monastery with a spectacular mosaic floor has been found in northern Negev, Israel.Assaf Peretz/Israel Antiquities Authority

A Byzantine era monastery, about 1500 years old, has been discovered in Israel and boasts of an impressive mosaic floor.

A part of the monastery's structure was uncovered in northern Negev, about 120km south of Jerusalem.

The 20m long and 35m wide structure consists of a prayer hall and a dining room that have "breathtaking" mosaic carpets, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said in a statement.

"The prayer hall is paved with a mosaic on which a pattern of leaves is vibrantly portrayed in blue, red, yellow and green colours," IAA's excavation director Daniel Varga explained.

"The dining room floor is a colourful mosaic pavement depicting floral motifs, geometric decorations, amphorae, baskets and even a pair of birds."

The mosaic carpets also include inscriptions in Greek and Syrian languages. In Greek, the text mentions the names of the heads of the monastery and the dates when the pavements were constructed in both the halls.

The inscriptions helped archaeologists date the monastery to the second half of the sixth century CE.

1500-Year-Old Monastery with Stunning Mosaics Discovered in Israel
Aerial view of the monastery structureSkyview Company/Israel Antiquities Authority

White mosaic pavements were also found at the monastery's four service rooms but much of these mosaics were destroyed following the collapse of the building at the end of the Byzantine period, the archaeologists said.

Pottery items such as amphorae and jars, cooking pots, kraters and bowls were also discovered during the excavation of the monastery.

In addition, various glass vessels as well as coins, ascribed to the Byzantine period, were excavated.

"These finds indicate there was a rich material culture in the monastery," the archaeologists said.