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September 24, 2017

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1,500-year-old mosaic uncovered in Jerusalem

Archaeologists have uncovered a mosaic near Jerusalem's Old City that dates back 1,500 years to the Byzantine era, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Wednesday.

The approximately 1 meter by 80 centimetre mosaic floor has a Greek inscription praising East Roman emperor Justinian I.

According to the IAA, the location of the mosaic was likely a building used as a hostel for Christian pilgrims.

"The emperor was one the most important rulers of the Byzantine period, and was one of the most colourful and charismatic rulers of antiquity," said David Gellman, the director of the excavation.

"Under his reign, the Roman empire was at its strongest, and its conversion to Christianity was completed."

The mosaic was discovered near Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem, which is now the main entryway to the Old City's Muslim Quarter. Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and subsequently annexed the area in a move that was not internationally recognized.

Gellman called the find an "archaeological miracle."

"We were about to close the excavation, when all of a sudden, a corner of the mosaic inscription peeked out between the pipes and cables," said Gellman in a statement. "Amazingly, it had not been damaged."

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