Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hurvat Hani

This morning we visited Hurvat Hani and got to uncover the awesome mosaic you see above. Some kind visitor in the past left a broom to sweep off the sand covering (which we dutifully returned before we left). All I can say is Wow!

In a 2002 salvage excavation the site was identified as a monastery for women (isn't that called a convent?) that was build during the fifth century CE. The mosaic above was part of the floor in the church hall. There were five stages associated with the main (church) building. First the church was built over a crypt (where they found the bones of several women). Later a monastery was established at the site (stage 2). In the sixth century (stage 3) the monastery grew and the mosaic was installed. During the period of iconoclasm in the eighth century (stage 4) the mosaic's human and animal images were obliterated. During this period religious icons were seen as idol worship and were destroyed. A blessing for the mother superior was incorporated into the mosaic - more evidence that this was a nunnery. The place was abandoned at the end of the ninth century (stage 5) and its stonework reused as a cemetery for girls. All this points to the site's continued sacred tie to to the female side of the species.

We followed the dirt road to the site and were sure that we had missed it when we spotted the remains of this wall on the side of the road. We climbed the steep bank and saw this:
I would not have guessed that the mosaic was beneath this cover of dirt had I not seen the broom nearby. We did at least as good a job of covering it up when we left.
These are the remains of the main building (A). The boy is making coffee up there. Luckily, it was overcast and not too hot yet (although it has turned into a real scorcher).
These are some of the remaining walls of the building. It really has a churchlike feel, even though there are not high walls or anything much standing. It is a special place. And not just for females :-)
In case we missed the mosaic, someone left some some graffiti. At least spell correctly, you fool. It's sad, but at least they did not mess with the mosaic. Most of which is still completely covered with quite a deep layer of sand. I hope it stays that way. For a picture of the complete mosaic look here.

Nice place.

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