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    Stunning Roman mosaics return home to new museum

    Emily Rose

    JERUSALEM (AP) – A series of exceptional 1,700-year-old Roman mosaics have returned home to Israel, where the collection went on public display for the first time on Monday after more than a decade touring the world’s top museums.

    The mosaics were first discovered in the central city of Lod in 1996 but the Israel Antiquities Authority only fully unearthed the enormous, well-preserved artworks in 2009.

    The collection stretches 17 metres by nine metres.

    The mosaics feature a menagerie of animals, from fish and fowl to beasts that would have been exotic to ancient residents of Lod: an African elephant, rhinoceros and giraffe.

    Archaeologists believe the mosaics adorned a villa in the third or fourth centuries, after Lod was rebuilt as the Roman city of Diospolis.

    A worker cleans a restored Roman-era mosaic ahead of its display in its hometown ahead of the inauguration of the Shelby White & Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center, in Lod, central Israel. PHOTO: AP

    But for more than a decade, while Israeli authorities raised funds for a museum, the mosaics had no permanent home. They went on display at museums around the globe, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre Museum in Paris and The Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia.

    The mosaics’ new home at the Shelby White and Leon Levy Mosaic Lod Archaeological Center features guided tours and interactive exhibits in Arabic, English and Hebrew.

    The museum is free for residents of Lod.

    “Like a mosaic which brings many pieces together to be one wonderful picture… we are trying to bring all the local people,” museum’s Project Manager Raanan Kislev told The Associated Press.

    The museum is designed to recreate an ancient Roman villa like one that would have housed the mosaics.

    “Our dream for this city is being realised today right before of our eyes, as we dedicate this most important museum, placing Lod on the world tourism map,” said Mayor Yair Revivo.

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