An earlier decorated mosaic (exposed area c. 3 × 3 m; Fig. 1) was discovered 0.3 m below the removed mosaic. It was destroyed on the western side by the wall of the room that contained the later, removed mosaic and on its eastern and southern sides by later disturbances. The northern end of the early mosaic was not exposed. The geometric pattern decorating the center of the mosaic section is composed of an outer red-painted square frame and an inner red-painted square frame, which contains three black concentric circles, whose segmented division is marked by black lines. A row of red semicircles is marked on the perimeter, inside the outer circle. The southern part of the concentric circles’ pattern was destroyed and repaired with a small patch of white tesserae and with gray plaster further south, while the mosaic was still in use.


The fill between the two mosaic layers was compact and consisted of light brown soil that contained a large quantity of small fresco plaster pieces and a few potsherds from the first century CE on the early mosaic floor. A worn coin that may probably date to the year 30 CE was found above the floor. It is noteworthy that this is the first time in the excavations of the Jewish Quarter that two mosaic floors from the Second Temple period are discovered one above the other.


During September 2005, the early mosaic was removed for conservation. The mosaic’s bedding consisted of a crushed, tamped-chalk layer. A small probe (1.2 × 1.2 m) excavated in the bedding exposed in its southern side a fieldstone-built wall, oriented east–west. Bedrock, descending to the east, was discovered c. 1.2 m below the mosaic. The soil fill in the probe contained potsherds, dating mostly to the end of the first century BCE, as well as a few fragments from Iron II. It can therefore be assumed that the early mosaic was installed at the end of Herod’s reign or at the very beginning of the first century CE.