Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ein Yael

Ein Yael Floor was discovered in 1988 by Gershon Edelstein of the Antiquities Authority, while excavating an ancient agricultural farm. (Pl. 1) [4]

The farm overlooks the Repha’im Valley and all the buildings discovered stand on the valley’s steeply sloping southern side. A perennial spring is channeled (by rock-cut and built conduits) to a Roman villa, a bathhouse complex and three reservoirs, which irrigate eight extensively tilled terraces. The Mosaic Floor was found in a round, tower-like structure standing between the reservoirs.

The wall of the structure, preserved to a height of some 1.5 m., retains on its inner surface the remnants of fresco painting. Its northern side was partly demolished by the later construction of a masonry wall to support the large reservoir beside it.


4. Plan of of Roman villa, bath house and baptistery with Mosaic Floor of David's star at Ein Yael (near Jerusalem)


In the round building’s west side there is a 0.8 m. -wide opening, exactly opposite a square water basin, 4.35 m. long, 2.75m. wide, and 1.0 m. deep, and floored with ceramic tiles. I am convinced that we have here the open-air Baptistery of a Neo-Christian community before us. The round building served the consecrating priest while the square basin – it has a 0.85 m. -wide opening in its south side – served to immerse the catechumens . [Acts 2:38-41]

The design of the mosaic floor (Pl. 1) is conceived as a single dominating Star of David with two interlacing unilateral triangles (as usual), traced by a two-strand Guilloche and elaborately framed. The Star itself is inscribed into a single black encircling line. Its hexagonal center is filled by a six-petalled Lily sign (Shoshan), while its outer angles are filled by 3 tri-petalled Shoshan signs and three Pelta (Amazon) signs, juxtaposed. All six outer signs are pointing inside.

The circular frame comprises a two-strand Guilloche within an inner and outer circle of successive stepped triangles (“crew-steps”) turned towards the Guilloche circle). It is enclosed within a continuous black borderline like that encircling the Star itself. The predominant colours are red, yellow, and black . [5]