Imprint of sandals and feet from the Roman Period in an Israelic mosaic!

Posted: November 23, 2009 in Archaeology, Excavation, History
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A mosaic was discovered in Israel 13 years ago at Lod south of Tel Aviv. It was situated under a modern asphalt road. It was then dated to the Roman Period about 1700 years ago.


It was a rather large mosaic 180 square meters (215 square yards) and it had once belonged to a Roman villa. It is one of the most well-preserved mosaics in Israel. 13 years ago the archaeologists only had a weekend to do some work. There was no funding at that time to preserve the mosaic so it was covered again in waiting for the funds to pick it up and preserve it.


It took 13 years but just a while ago the Israel Antiquities Authority granted money. Now the mosaic is being disassembled to transport it to restoration departments.


The mosaic is very beautiful and consists of scenes with fish, exotic animals, birds and merchant vessels and now archaeologists have discovered what probably is an imprint of sandals and feet.


“Beneath a piece on which vine leaves are depicted, we discovered that the mosaic’s builders incised lines that indicate where the tesserae (mosaic tiles) should be set,” said Jacques Neguer, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority conservation department. “Afterwards, while cleaning the layer, we found the imprints of feet and sandals.”

The petrified sandal prints that accompany the mosaic ranged in size, suggesting that children might have been at the site.

According to Neguer, the concentration of foot and sandal prints indicate that builders packed the mortar in place with their feet.

“The footprints are scientific material to be studied by anthropologists and archaeologists, but for conservators, they are a symbol of continuity,” Neguer told Discovery News. “Some 1,700 years ago, the mosaic-makers walked on the same bedding mortar we are working on today.”

At least one imprint of a sole resembled a modern sandal, he added.

“Looks like little has changed in the fashion world. However, scientific investigations are yet to be carried on the prints,” Neguer said.

According to Andre Veldmeijer, an archaeologist who specializes in ancient Egyptian leatherwork, footwear and cordage, it is not possible to say what a sandal looked like on the basis of prints.

“Imprints can only tell what kind of shape the sandal was and perhaps, if the print is really good, if it was made of vegetable fiber or not,” Veldmeijer told Discovery News.

The foot prints will be removed for conservation and exhibited with the mosaic flooring at a museum in Lod. A part of the mosaic will be displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art next year.


It is an exciting find which hopefully will reveal more information as how mosaic was made and the work behind it mixing the mortar etc.


Picture taken from Discovery News.


Read more here


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