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Lod, Israel

With evidence of settlement dating to the 5th millennium B,C,, the city of Lod has a long and varied history. In the Hellenistic period, it was a center of trade and learning in the Jewish Hasmonean Kingdom. During Roman rule the city was predominantly Christian. According to legend, St. George, the martyred Roman soldier in the Guard of Diocletian, is believed to have been killed in Lod in the 4th century A.D., when he refused to renounce his Christian faith. A church consecrated in his honor still stands in Lod. After the Arab conquest of Palestine in the 7th century, Lod served as the capital until replaced by Ramla.

The city of Lod suffered significant destruction during the 1948 war, and postwar urban renewal efforts have encroached on historic fabric. Located 9.3 miles (15 kilometers) from Tel Aviv, it is now home to Israel’s largest international airport. This dense and layered history of occupation and development has resulted in a fractured landscape and community in present day Lod. Little remains of its historic core, save the vestiges of the khan and the olive press, dating from the Mameluke (1260–1517) and Ottoman (1517–1917) periods respectively. Discovery of the Lod mosaic, the largest intact Roman mosaic in Israel, along with efforts to improve socioeconomic conditions for its diverse population, have prompted plans to engage the community of Lod with its collective heritage through documentation, conservation, and tourism development.