A dedication ceremony was held last week, on June 27, 2022, in the presence of Ms. Shelby White, Lod Mayor Adv. Yair Revivo, Israel Antiquities Authority Director-General Eli Eskozido, and numerous dignitaries.

After years on display in the world’s most important museums, including the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the Altes Museum in Berlin, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, and others, the breathtaking Lod Mosaic – among the most beautiful discovered in Israel or anywhere in the world, and part of the floor of a late 3rd-early 4th-century villa — has returned to Lod and will be on public display, beginning this summer.

The Lod Municipality and the Israel Antiquities Authority inaugurated the Shelby White & Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center in the presence of donor Ms. Shelby White and representatives of the Leon Levy Foundation. Also participating in the event were senior representatives of the Antiquities Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, the Lod Municipality, and other dignitaries.

The Donor, Ms. Shelby White: “From the moment Leon and I saw this historic mosaic, we knew how important it was for the town of Lod and the world, and what it would do to make Lod a cultural center. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the restoration of the mosaic and the creation of this museum. Being here is a dream come true.”

Lod Mayor, Adv. Leon Revivo: “Some 26 years since it was discovered in 1996, we have reached this great day as we inaugurate the Shelby White & Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center, a source of local pride and a link to the timeless history of Lod – among the oldest cities in the world! Our dream for this city – itself a mosaic of cultures — is being realized today right before our eyes as we dedicate this most important museum, placing Lod on the world tourism map. We will enable people from around the country and the world to view this amazing treasure here in its original location, exactly where it was found. I want to thank Eli Eskozido, Director-General of the Antiquities Authority, his predecessors, Yehoshua (Shuka) Dorfman of Blessed Memory and Yisrael Hasson, and their staff for their tremendous dedication to this project, and for accompanying it throughout. And special thanks to our dear donor, Ms. Shelby White.”

Eli Eskozido, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “Today, after years of effort, the final piece of the Lod Mosaic project has been put in place, with the dedication of this visitors’ center. This is a thrilling milestone for the Antiquities Authority, whose experts uncovered, preserved, and promoted the public display of this amazing mosaic. I wish to thank the Lod Municipality and the driving force behind this project – our donor Shelby White — without whom the Lod Mosaic wouldn’t have returned home. There’s no place else in Israel that displays and tells the story of such a wonderful mosaic in such a special way!”

About the Mosaic

The Lod Mosaic was discovered in 1996 by Israel Antiquities archaeologist Miriam Avissar of Blessed Memory during an archaeological dig prior to the expansion of He’Chalutz Street. It stems from the Roman period – the end of the 3rd century or the beginning of the 4th century CE. Due to the lack of funds to preserve and develop the site for display, the mosaic was re-covered at the conclusion of the excavations. Then, in 2009, the Antiquities Authority, through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation and Shelby White, acquired funding for its renewed exposure and preservation and returned it to the site as an archaeological center open to the general public.

Unusual in its quality, construction, contents, and state of preservation, the mosaic once served as the foyer floor of a villa in a wealthy Lod neighborhood from the Roman and Byzantine eras. It is about 17 meters long and about 9 meters wide and comprises colorful surfaces depicting fruits, mammals, birds, fish, flora, and even sailing vessels. Its design was influenced by that of North African mosaics. It’s interesting to note that, unlike other mosaics from that era, it includes no depictions of people. During the construction of the Mosaic Center, the Antiquities Authority discovered an additional colored mosaic that was part of the villa’s courtyard. It was also included in the Center as part of the visitors’ experience.

The mosaic is located in northeastern Lod, adjacent to the Ginton Junction, making it easily accessible from Ben-Gurion airport and two major highways – Route 1 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Route 6, linking northern and southern Israel. Its proximity to national traffic arteries will make it a national attraction, placing it on the tourism map along with several of the city’s other historical sites.

The mosaic will be on display for the general public, enabling visitors to see and experience it from various angles while teaching them about Lod’s history, archaeology, and mosaic preservation as they enjoy its unique beauty. The new visitors’ center will strengthen the connection of Lod residents to their city’s important historical legacy. This is a unique project, a world-class exhibit of an important find in its original location within a modern structure that honors and recalls the villa in which it once rested.