RAHAT, ISRAEL (AFP) - Israeli archaeologists unveiled a 1,200 year-old mansion on Tuesday (Aug 23), broadening knowledge of the southern desert region where a mosque was recently discovered.
Described as a "luxurious rural estate" by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the home boasted a marble-paved hallway and walls decorated with frescoes.
The first building of its kind to be found in the southern Negev desert, according to the IAA, it contained vaulted rooms around a central courtyard.
The remains of oil lamps were unearthed in storage rooms underground, along with a cistern.
"The luxurious estate and the unique impressive underground vaults are evidence of the owners' means," said a statement from the archaeologists leading the excavations.
"Their high status and wealth allowed them to build a luxurious mansion that served as a residence and for entertaining," added Mr Oren Shmueli, Ms Elena Kogan-Zehavi and Mr Noe D. Michael.
The site in the Bedouin city of Rahat is due to be opened to the public on Thursday.
The estate is close to a rare mosque dating back to the same period, which Israeli archaeologists unveiled in June.
A few dozens Muslims likely worshipped at the site at one time, the IAA said.
The Muslim conquest of the region occurred in the first half of the seventh century.