The mosaic, with vibrant colours that have survived the passage of time, measures around 17 by nine metres (55 by 30 feet), depicting roaring lions, elephants in battle, giraffes and dolphins, as well as fruits, flowers in baskets, and sailing vessels.
It was discovered in the central city of Lod in 1996 and believed to have been the floor of a mansion dating back to the late third-early fourth century.
According to an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist, the mosaic is not only “the most luxurious one that we have here in Israel from that period”, but also “unique in its form and character”.
“It shows that artists who did this kind of work in Carthage and in Sicily travelled around the Roman world” and were commissioned for private homes, said Hagit Torge.
The mosaic was disassembled and for around a decade displayed at leading museums in the United States and Europe, while the Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center was being built. The mosaic is to go on show to the public in Israel this summer.
Lod was known as Diospolis in ancient times and served as a district capital. Today it is located near Ben Gurion international airport.