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Renovations provide new view of ancient West Bank mosaic

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Renovations provide new view of ancient West Bank mosaic

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Tourists are given a new glimpse of one of the largest ancient mosaics in the Middle East after renovations undertaken by the Palestinian Authority with help from Japan

JERICHO, West Bank – Tourists are offered a new glimpse of one of the largest ancient mosaics in the Middle East after renovations undertaken by the Palestinian Authority were unveiled this week.

The 930 square meter (10,000 square feet) stone mosaic, with intricate geometric patterns, is part of what is known as Hisham Palace. It was built during the reign of the Umayyads, the first hereditary Muslim dynasty, which ruled from Damascus. The palace was the resort town of Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, who reigned from AD 724 to AD 743.

It is located near the desert oasis city of Jericho – one of the oldest in the world – in what is now the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel, which controls access to the territory, plans to welcome tourists from November 1 as it lifts COVID-19 restrictions. Palestinians hope the new project will attract both local and foreign travelers.

The $ 18 million project, which included building a large dome to protect the mosaic from the elements, was partly funded by the Japanese government. Tourists can now view the mosaic from a new walkway suspended above it.

The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 2018, but was delayed, in part due to the challenge of anchoring the dome without disturbing the archaeological remains.

Abdel Raheem Zahran, a local tourist who came with his children on Thursday, said he had visited the site seven years earlier, but was “not as developed”.

“The dome they made is awesome, you don’t have the sun beating down on you,” he said.

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