Israeli archaeologists unearth 1,800-year-old mosaic

Workers from the Israeli Antiquity Authority clean a rare Roman mosaic from the 2nd–3rd centuries at Caesarea National Park. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Israeli archaeologists unearth 1,800-year-old mosaic

CAESAREA, Israel: A 1,800-year-old mosaic of toga-clad men dating back to the Roman era has been unearthed in Israel, archaeologists said on Thursday.
The mosaic was discovered during the excavation of a building from the Byzantine period — some 300 years younger than the mosaic it was on top of — in the coastal city of Caesarea.
“The surprise was actually that we found two beautiful monuments from the glorious days of Caesarea,” Peter Gendelman, co-director of excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, told Reuters of the building and mosaic.
Caesarea was a vibrant Roman metropolis built in honor of Emperor Augustus Caesar by King Herod, who ruled Judea from 37 BC until his death in 4 BC.
The excavated portion of the mosaic, which the antiquities authority said was 3.5 meters by 8 meters in size, depicts three toga-clad men, as well as geometric patterns and an inscription in Greek, which is damaged.
If the mosaic came from a mansion, the figures could have been the owners, or if it was a public building, they may have been the mosaic’s donors or members of the city council, Gendelman said.
The mosaic was of a high artistic standard, with about 12,000 stones per square meter, the antiquities authority said.
Israel is undertaking the largest conservation and reconstruction project in the country in the Caesarea National Park, the antiquities team said. The project aims to reconstruct a Crusaders-era bridge.


Two Iraqi troops killed in rare clashes with PKK: army

The PKK have bases in Iraq’s Qandil Mountains. (AFP/File)
Updated 14 min 1 sec ago
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Two Iraqi troops killed in rare clashes with PKK: army

  • The Kurdistan Workers Party is classified as a terrorist group by a number of countries
  • The fighting started after an Iraqi soldier asked the group for a permit

BAGHDAD: Two Iraqi soldiers were killed in rare clashes Sunday with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the north of the country where the group has bases, the army said overnight.
The PKK, seen as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
It has rear bases in the Qandil mountain area of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.
An Iraqi military statement said PKK fighters “attacked an army checkpoint in the (northern) Nineveh province... (and) two soldiers were killed” around 100 kilometers west of Mosul near the Syria border.
Five PKK members were wounded in the clashes which erupted when an Iraqi soldier manning the checkpoint asked the group for a permit, usually issued by Iraqi security forces, which would allow them to go across.
“It is the first time that we have confrontations of this scale in the region,” Mohammad Khalil, the mayor of the nearby city of Sinjar, told AFP.
The PKK deployment in northern Iraq has been a constant source of tension between Baghdad and Ankara, with Turkey pressing Iraq to play a bigger role in fighting the group.
Earlier this month Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said his country would carry out a joint operation with Iran against the PKK.
Soylu did not specify which PKK bases the planned operation would target but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has previously said it would be against militant hideouts in Iraq.
Like Turkey, Iran has for decades fought the PKK affiliate, the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), which also has rear bases in neighboring Iraq.
The Turkish military has often bombed PKK bases in Iraq’s mountainous regions.
In January, one person was killed when Turkish troops opened fire at Iraqi Kurds who stormed a Turkish army position in northwestern Iraq to protest the deaths of four civilians in alleged Turkish bombardment.
Baghdad summoned the Turkish ambassador while Ankara accused the PKK of having provoked the incident.
US-backed Kurdish fighters are leading the battle against the Daesh group in Syria.