• Issue: November 2016
  • Designer: Meir Eshel
  • Stamp Size: 30 mm x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 1038
  • Security mark: Microtext
  • Sheet of 6 stamps, Tabs: 6
  • Printers: Cartor Security Printing, France
  • Method of printing: Offset

Creating mosaics requires a skilled artisan who must know how to lay foundations that prevent the floor from sinking, design intricate characters and shapes, and place the colorful tiles according to a precise predetermined plan.

The art of mosaic floors began to develop in Eretz Israel during the Hellenistic period and peaked during the Roman and Byzantine periods. It was very costly to produce a mosaic floor, thus owning one was considered a status symbol that only few could afford. The wealthy adorned their luxurious homes with mosaic floors and community leaders used them to decorate public buildings, such as bath houses, churches and synagogues.

There are common themes in many of the ancient mosaic floors in Eretz Israel, which mainly feature plants and animals. Archeologists believe that these floors were created by groups of artists who specialized in this craft and traveled from town to the town with samples of patterns, offering their services to community leaders. This explains why similar motifs appear in mosaics found in numerous ancient homes, synagogues and churches. The artists also incorporated unique elements into floors they were commissioned to create, such as a menorah in a synagogue or a cross in a church.

Synagogue, Maon (Negev), 6th century
Near Kibbutz Nirim in the western Negev, the remains of a Byzantine-period synagogue were discovered in 1957, including a magnificent mosaic floor. The main part of the design features 55 medallions made of winding grape vines. Different animals appear in the center of each medallion. The stamp emphasizes the image of a brilliant colorful peacock and the tab features additional medallions, including that of a palm tree.

Villa, Lod, 3rd century
In 1996, a luxurious home from the Roman period was discovered during the course of renovation excavations in the city of Lod. At the center is a unique mosaic floor of the highest quality. The quality of a mosaic is determined by the size of the tiles and the range of colors used to create it — the smaller the tiles and the wider the color range, the better the quality. This mosaic
was created with very small tiles in a wide range of colors, creating colorful areas featuring mammals, birds, fish and sailing vessels. The stamp and tab feature a small section of this richly decorated magnificent floor.

Synagogue, Gaza, 6th century
The remains of a Byzantine-period synagogue with a brilliant mosaic floor were first unearthed on the Gaza coast in 1965. Additional archeological excavations in the 1970's revealed that this mosaic also featured animals inside round medallions.
The stamp features the ominous image of a tiger leaping on its prey. Jewish lumber merchants Menachem and Joshua, who contributed the mosaic, are commemorated in an inscription, which appears on the tab.

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Mosaics in Eretz Israel