|Jericho Unveils a Massive 1,200-Year-Old Carpet Mosaic Measuring Nearly 900 Square Meters|
An unidentified man examines part of a mosaic, measureing around 9,700 square feet (900 square meters), in ruins of an 8th-century Islamic palace outside the West bank town of Jericho, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. Visitors to ancient Jericho are getting a rare glimpse at what archaeologists say is the largest carpet mosaic in the Middle East. AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed.
By: Karin Laub, Associated Press Writer
JERICHO (AP).- Visitors to ancient Jericho got a rare glimpse Sunday of a massive 1,200-year-old carpet mosaic measuring nearly 900 square meters (9,700 square feet), making it one of the largest in the Middle East.
The small red, blue and ochre square stones laid out in sweeping geometric and floral patterns cover the floor of the main bath house of an Islamic palace that was destroyed by an earthquake in the eighth century. Since being excavated in the 1930s and 1940s, the mosaic has largely remained hidden under layers of canvas and soil to protect it against sun and rain.
Starting Sunday, a small section will be laid bare for a week, as part of Jericho's 10,000th birthday celebrations. The mosaic then will be covered up again until the money is found to build a roof that would serve as a permanent weather shield, said Palestinian archaeologist Hamdan Taha.
Biblical Jericho attracts a steady flow of pilgrims, but the small Jordan Valley oasis is making a major push these days to become a magnet for tourists, presenting itself as the oldest city on earth. Marking the 10,000th birthday Sunday is entirely random, though, with archaeologists saying they could be off by hundreds of years in dating the first human settlement in the area.
However, throwing a birthday party is a way of spotlighting Jericho's attractions, including Hisham's Palace, a winter retreat built in the eighth century during the Umayyad empire. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad held his weekly Cabinet meeting in Jericho on Sunday to mark the town's birthday, and was to tour the palace later in the day.
With the large mosaic mostly covered up, a smaller one in the audience room next to the bath house has been getting all the attention. It shows two gazelles nibbling at the leaves of an apple tree, while nearby a lion attacks another gazelle from behind. A small house was built over the tree mosaic to protect it.
Now archaeologists are trying to find a way to keep the large mosaic permanently on display as well, scrambling to raise at least $2 million to build a roof above it. One proposed solution a shield that looks like a large upended wooden crate was contributed by award-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. A model of his design is on display at the site.
Taha said a final decision on the design of the weather shield has not yet been made.
During a visit Sunday, several dozen square meters of the mosaic were visible, the colors of the small square stones unexpectedly bright. A walkway of blankets separated the exposed part of the mosaic from covered area, hidden under sand. A guide told tourists they were lucky to get a peek at the mosaic.
Archaeologist Iyad Hamad, who is in charge of the palace site, said he expects far larger crowds of tourists once the large mosaic is on display permanently. He said turnout had surged during brief periods in recent years when the mosaic was uncovered for research.
Hamad said it's the largest carpet mosaic in the Middle East, a claim backed by Marwan Abu Khalaf, an archaeology professor at Al-Quds university and a fellow at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. Abu Khalaf said the fine workmanship suggests that the Umayyads hired master artists instead of ordinary craftsmen to lay the mosaic.
Associated Press writer Aisha Mohammed contributed to this report from Jerusalem.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
October 11, 2010
Overview of Ernst Ludwig Kirchners Creative Development at Hamburger Kunsthalle
Ai Weiwei Presents New Commission in The Unilever Series at Tate Modern's Turbine Hall
Exceptional Public Exhibitions, Events and Auctions at Christie's During Frieze Week
Rare Nude Study by Czech Photographer Frantisek Drtikol to Sell at Bonhams
British Sculptor Sir Anthony Caro OM, CBE to Exhibit at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi
Sotheby's to Sell Francis Bacon's Figure In Movement, Gift from the Artist to his Doctor
RM Auctions Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey Event Posts $8.8 Million in Total Sales with 100% of all Lots Sold
Artistic Installations to be Shown in Recently Discovered Labyrinth Beneath London's Waterloo Station
Miami International Art Fair, a New Unique Art Fair Model for the 21st Century
The Christian Stein Collection: A History of Italian Art at the Valencian Institute of Modern Art
Exhibition of New Paintings by Sandra Lerner on Display at June Kelly Gallery in New York
Model of Renzo Piano-Designed West Building Now on View at the Kimbell Art Museum
An Impressive and Comprehensive Collection of Glorious Quilts Celebrate the "Year of the Quilt"
Suchan Kinoshita Exhibits at Museum Ludwig as Part of Winning Fine Arts Prize
Three Emerging London-Based Artists Present 'Transmission' at Haunch of Venison
Largest-Ever Exhibition in Scandinavia of the Work of Alice Neel at Moderna Museet Malmö
Deichtorhallen Hamburg Provides a Comprehensive Insight into the Art of Poul Gernes
Solo Show of Paintings by the American Artist Pat Steir at Galerie Jaeger Bucher
Local Collector's Estate Realizes Over $900,000 at Auction
Major 20th-Century Private Sculpture Collection Goes to Chazen Museum of Art
Picasso to Julie Mehretu: Modern Drawings from the British Museum Collection
Jericho Unveils a Massive 1,200-Year-Old Carpet Mosaic Measuring Nearly 900 Square Meters
Phillips Collection Names Klaus Ottmann Curator at Large
Galerie Michael Janssen Opens First Exhibition with Belgian Artist Joris Van de Moortel
SMU's Meadows and Prado Museum Officials Sign Partnership Agreement in Madrid
Jonas Lipps' "Available Material of the Necessary Time" at Klosterfelde
Christie's Rediscovers a Rare 17th Century Set of Silver Playing Cards to Be Sold in October
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Jackson Pollock work "Number 19, 1948" sells for record $58.4 million at Christie's
2.- Exhibition of nude photography around 1900 on view at Berlin's Photography Museum
3.- Belize City officials say ancient thirty-meter high Mayan pyramid razed for road fill
4.- Hidden drawings from Nazi concentration camp on display at Jewish Museum in Berlin
5.- Records fall at Sotheby's contemporary art auction; Barnett Newman painting sells for $43.84M
6.- Death mask of Napoleon to be auctioned at Bonhams' Book, Map and Manuscript sale
7.- New Yorkers unnerved by neighbor's voyeuristic photos on view at Julie Saul Gallery
8.- Rare Vincent Van Gogh sketchbook copies up for unprecedented sale at museum store and online
9.- Leonardo DiCaprio environmental art auction at Christie's New York tops $38 million
10.- Hong Kong cries fowl as giant rubber duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman deflates
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|