Campaign to Save Rare Synagogue Mosaics on Aegina Island, Greece



A Greek inscription in a mosaic in a fourth-century Jewish synagogue on the Greek island of Aegina. Source: Friends of the Mosaic Floor of the Aegina Synagogue Project Facebook page

Mosaics under an ancient synagogue from the 4th century BC, with geometrical patterns and two Greek inscriptions, were discovered on Greece’s Aegina Island in the nineteenth century.

This major find by German archaeologist Ludwig Ross in 1829 represented an important landmark in Greek archaeology. But the priceless mosaics are now in dire need of preservation.

Yvette Nahmia Messinas and Elias Messinas, the founders of an NGO called EcoWeek, in cooperation with Greece’s Ephorate of Antiquities for Piraeus and the Islands, have embarked on a two-year program for the preservation of this important piece of history. The Ephorate is part of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports.

EcoWeek described the mosaic floor as the most significant and rare discovery in the realm of Jewish archaeology in Greece, pointing out that the mosaic tiles are currently in a dangerous state of neglect and that they needs immediate protection and preservation.

The synagogue was constructed near the port of Aegina circa 300 BC, and water damage as well as erosion have contributed to its current state.

The mosaics’ condition has become worse due to its exposure to the environmental for the last two centuries as well as its proximity to the extremely salty water of the encroaching sea.

The conservation plan includes preservation work to stabilize the condition of the mosaics and to repair the damage caused by deterioration since their discovery.

The preservation program will approximately cost 150,000 euros ($166,000), but a crowdfunding platform has been set up for donations. The preservation efforts, which began in 2018, are scheduled to be completed in the year 2020.

The public can help in these vital restoration efforts by donating online through the web page that EcoWeek has set up for the mosaic project. You may visit their crowdfunding platform by clicking here.