Palestinian authorities unveiled one of the world’s largest floor mosaics in the West Bank city of Jericho on Thursday after years of restoration.
Resembling a fine carpet, the vast mosaic covers 836 square meters (8,998 square feet) in Hisham Palace, an Umayyad Islamic desert castle dating from the 8th century.
The images, seen on dozens of panels, include a lion attacking a deer to symbolize war and two gazelles to symbolize peace, as well as delicate floral and geometric designs.
Hisham Palace had been forgotten for centuries until it was rediscovered in the 19th century and explored in the 1930s. It was then that the mosaic was uncovered in the dust.
But it still remained neglected until five years ago, when the site was closed to visitors when a $ 12 million Japanese-funded restoration effort was launched.
“This mosaic contains more than five million pieces of stone from Palestine that have a natural and distinctive color,” Saleh Tawafsha, undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, told AFP during the opening ceremony.
He said he hoped the restoration would attract tourists to Jericho.
Hisham Palace near the Dead Sea covers approximately 150 acres (60 hectares) and comprises baths and an agricultural estate.
The Umayyad dynasty lasted from 660 to 750 AD