Stuff that matters

A tile-mosaic floor depicting birds and other animals has been found under a field in Gaza so well-preserved it could have been buried yesterday.

Olive farmer Salman al-Nabahin was planting new trees in his grove in Bureij Refugee Camp when he and his son chanced upon the ancient relic which is believed to date from the Byzantine era.

Some of the new trees weren’t taking root, and digging down into the soil their tools struck something hard and unfamiliar which led to the discovery.

Before any archeologists could come to see it, al-Nabahin and his son looked it up on the internet and determined based on the style it was probably Byzantine.

The Empire of Byzantium was the eastern portion of the Roman Empire, which developed later than the western half, but lasted longer—long into the Viking Age. The Byzantines were one of many cultures that controlled Palestine over the centuries, along with ancient Rome and Egypt, the Ottomans, Crusader states and the Biblical Philistines.

“The archaeological discovery is still in its early stages and we await to know more of the secrets and civilization values,” the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said in a statement.

“National research teams are working in partnership with international experts and scientists from the French Archaeology School.”

Finds in Gaza traditionally require the help of outside antiquities excavators and archeologists.

“I see it as a treasure, dearer than a treasure,” said al-Nabahin, a father of 7. “It isn’t personal, it belongs to every Palestinian.”