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Greek Inscription Uncovered in 1,500-year-old Mosaic Floor in Jerusalem

Archaeologists think it will help them understand Justinian's building projects in the city

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The Greek inscription cites Justinian and Constantine
A conservationist works on a 1,500-year-old mosaic floor bearing Greek writing, discovered near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, as it is displayed at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, Aug. 23, 2017. VOA
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  • A 1,500-year-old mosaic floor with a Greek inscription has been uncovered in Jerusalem’s old city
  • The inscription cites sixth-century Roman Emperor Justinian as well as Constantine
  • Justinian was one of the most important rulers of Byzantine era

Jerusalem, August 24, 2017: A 1,500-year-old mosaic floor with a Greek inscription has been uncovered during works to install communications cables in Jerusalem’s Old City — a rare discovery of an ancient relic and a historic document in one.

The inscription cites sixth-century Roman Emperor Justinian as well as Constantine, who served as abbot of a church founded by Justinian in Jerusalem. Archaeologists think it will help them understand Justinian’s building projects in the city.

The full inscription reads: “The most pious Roman emperor Flavius Justinian and the most God-loving priest and abbot, Constantine, erected the building in which [this mosaic] sat during the 14th indiction.”

Indiction is an ancient method of counting years that was used for taxation purposes. Archaeologists said the inscription suggests the mosaic dated to A.D. 550-551.

Justinian was one of the most important rulers of the Byzantine era. In A.D. 543, he established the Nea Church in Jerusalem, one of the biggest Christian churches in the eastern Roman Empire and the largest in Jerusalem at the time.

“The fact that the inscription survived is an archaeological miracle,” David Gellman, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.

Also read: Israeli Archaeologists Discover 2,000-year-old Stone Factory in Galilee

He added that every archaeologist dreams of finding an inscription in excavations, “especially one so well-preserved and almost entirely intact.”

Researchers think the building of which the mosaic was once part, located beside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, was used as a hostel for pilgrims.

The mosaic, which was unveiled to the media Wednesday, was discovered this summer. Conservation experts have removed the mosaic and are treating it in a specialist workshop. (VOA)

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US to begin Jerusalem Embassy move preparations: Tillerson

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Photo: wikimedia commons

Washington, Dec 7. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that the State Department will “immediately” act on President Donald Trump’s order and start preparations to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump announced in a televised speech that he officially recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and instructed the State Department to relocate the US embassy to the city, reports Xinhua news agency. (Read: Trump to Announce US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital, Move Embassy)

Tillerson, who is on a Europe visit, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the US has consulted with “many friends, partners and allies” about the relocation ahead of Trump’s decision.

Though hailed by Israel, Trump’s announcement immediately drew strong opposition and widespread criticism from Arab and European countries that such a move would inflame tensions and fuel violence in the Middle East.

Tillerson said that the US had taken measures to protect Americans in the region.

“The safety of Americans is the State Department’s highest priority, and in concert with other federal agencies, we’ve implemented robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions.”

Trump’s announcement marked a dramatic departure from his predecessors’ foreign policy.

Although the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which required the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former Presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation out of consideration for national security interests.

The status of Jerusalem, revered by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site by Jews, lies at the core of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and no foreign countries have their embassies in the city.(IANS)

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