In some ways, digging down through layers of earth is a bit like traveling back in time — revealing secrets of the past which often can shape our understanding of the present.

And at the center of one recent archaeological discovery is an apparent homage to animals.

Last week, the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology announced the discovery of a buried cultural treasure beneath a farm in Gaza — a colorful mosaic believed to date back to the Byzantine Era in the 5th to 7th century.

The discovery was made while farmer Sulaiman Al-Nabahin and his family dug in their orchard.

The Ministry of Tourism and Archaeology says that the culture significance of the site is still being studied. But the artwork, crafted in exquisite detail, suggests an appreciation or perhaps reverence for the animals depicted there.

A variety of birds, rabbits and canines are among the animal images uncovered so far.

For archealogist René Elter, its nothing short of remarkable.

“These are the most beautiful mosaic floors discovered in Gaza, both in terms of the quality of the graphic representation and the complexity of the geometry,” he told the Associated Press.

While it’s still too soon to tell the likely inspiration behind this animal-themed mosaic from the ancient world, there’s still a truth to be gleaned — that the long history of humankind is a story of animals, too.