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Vast 8th c. mosaic floor uncovered near Jericho – for a day

Archaeologists quickly cover up 827-square-meter carpet mosaic in Islamic palace until protective roof is completed

A laborer from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities works at the site of a 7th century, 827 square meter (8900 square ft) mosaic ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A laborer from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities works at the site of a 7th century, 827 square meter (8900 square ft) mosaic ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Archaeologists have removed the protective cover from one of the Middle East’s largest carpet mosaics — but only for a day.

Visitors got a glimpse on Thursday of the sweeping geometric and floral patterns in vibrant red, blue and ochre stones.

The 827-square-meter (8,900 square feet) mosaic covers the floor of the main bath house of an Islamic palace near the biblical town of Jericho. The palace was destroyed by an earthquake in the eighth century.

Since being excavated in the 1930s and 1940s, the mosaic largely remained hidden under canvas and soil to protect it against sun and rain.

Palestinian Authority Tourism Minister Rula Ma’ayah said the mosaic, which depicts 38 scenes in 21 colors, will be covered again until construction of a protective roof is completed next year.

Visitors roam the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace ahead of an opening ceremony, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Visitors roam the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace ahead of an opening ceremony, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A portion of a 7th century, 827 square meter (8,900 square ft) mosaic is on display ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A portion of a 7th century, 827 square meter (8,900 square ft) mosaic is on display ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A laborer from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities works at the site of a 7th century, 827 square meter (8900 square ft) mosaic ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A laborer from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities works at the site of a 7th century, 827 square meter (8900 square ft) mosaic ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A Tree Of Life mosaic is shown at the site of a 7th century, 827-square-meter (8,900 square ft) mosaic ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A Tree Of Life mosaic is shown at the site of a 7th century, 827-square-meter (8,900 square ft) mosaic ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A laborer from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities works at the site of a 7th century, 827 square meter (8900 square ft) mosaic ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A laborer from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities works at the site of a 7th century, 827 square meter (8900 square ft) mosaic ahead of the opening ceremony at the Islamic archaeological site of Hisham Palace, in the West Bank city of Jericho, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

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