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Mosaic Expedition

by:Heng Xing     2020-08-18

The ban on human or animal pictures was more strictly noticed by the Samaritans than their Jewish neighbours in the identical city (see above). The mosaic was laid by the same masters who made the floor of the Beit Alfa synagogue. The House of Leontius in Bet She'an (excavated in 1964–72) is a rare example of a synagogue which was part of an inn. The colourful mosaic ground of the synagogue room had an outer stripe adorned with flowers and birds, around medallions with animals, created by vine trellises emerging from an amphora.

The dome mosaic is just like that of the Cappella Palatina, with Christ enthroned in the center and 4 bowed, elongated angels. The Greek inscriptions, ornamental patterns, and evangelists within the squinches are clearly executed by the identical Greek masters who worked on the Cappella Palatina. The mosaic depicting Roger II of Sicily, wearing Byzantine imperial robes and receiving the crown by Christ, was initially within the demolished narthex together with one other panel, the Theotokos with Georgios of Antiochia, the founding father of the church. Mosaic of Christ Pantocrator from Hagia Sophia from the Deesis mosaic.

The mosaic reflects an interesting fusion of Jewish and pagan beliefs. Helios sits in the center, in his sun chariot, and each zodiac is matched with a Jewish month.

1939–1941 Department of Near Eastern antiquities, Suly, ground flooring, room sixteen, Louvre. Its mosaic floor incorporates typical Jewish symbols (menorah, lulav, etrog) but the inscriptions are Greek. Another Samaritan synagogue with a mosaic ground was situated in Bet She'an (excavated in 1960). The flooring had solely decorative motifs and an aedicule (shrine) with cultic symbols.

Along the perimeters of the mosaic are strips depicting Biblical scenes, such as the binding of Isaac, as well as conventional rituals, together with a burnt sacrifice and the offering of fruits and grains. The city of Madaba remained an necessary middle of mosaic making during the fifth–eighth centuries. In the Church of the Apostles the middle of the principle panel Thalassa, goddess of the ocean, could be seen surrounded by fishes and other sea creatures. Native Middle Eastern birds, mammals, vegetation and fruits had been also added. The Martorana church (adorned round 1143) appeared initially even more Byzantine though necessary parts were later demolished.

The central medallion enclosed a menorah (candelabrum) beneath the word shalom (peace). A third superbly preserved zodiac mosaic was found within the Severus synagogue in the historical resort city of Hammat Tiberias. In the center of the 4th-century mosaic the Sun god, Helios sits in his chariot holding the celestial sphere and a whip. Another panel exhibits the Ark of Covenant and Jewish cultic objects used within the Temple at Jerusalem. The stays of a 6th-century synagogue have been uncovered in Sepphoris, which was an essential centre of Jewish tradition between the 3rd–seventh centuries and a multicultural town inhabited by Jews, Christians and pagans.
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