On Tuesday, Israel revealed the ruins of a 1,200-year-old building in the Negev desert, described by the Antiquities Authority as a “luxury property”, the first of its kind in this southern region of the country.
As part of the expansion of the city of Rahat, archaeologists discovered the remains of a dwelling, made partly of a marble floor and walls covered with frescoes, but especially of “unique and impressive underground vaults, which are evidence of the means of the owners,” according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (AIA) .
“We discovered a very large villa. It has a tower, a water system, and several rooms. “There were murals,” Michael, director of excavations at the AIA, told AFP.
Archaeologists, who believe the relics date back to the eighth and ninth centuries, or the early Islamic era, say “a wealthy landowner may have lived on the estate overlooking farms in the northern Negev.”
“We assume that everyone who lived here was a local leader,” added Mr. Michael.
“This luxurious property is the first of its kind in the Negev,” the agency said in a statement, noting that there are deep cisterns and cellars 5.5 meters below the inner courtyard of the property and 2.5 meters high.
“The vaults were carefully built and may have led to other complex underground spaces yet to be discovered,” explained the archaeologists responsible for excavations at this site, which will open to the public on Thursday.
In June, the AIA announced that it had discovered the remains of one of the world’s oldest rural mosques in the same area, which also dates back about 1,200 years and bears witness to the spread of Islam in the Negev desert.
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