Interpreting the Lod Mosaics

February 3, 2016 | Amir Gorzalczany
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In 1996, archaeologists discovered an elaborate Roman-era tiled floor in the Israeli city of Lod, and another eight years later. It emerged that both were part of a large villa, excavation of which continued until 2014. Amir Gorzalczany explains the significance of these findings. (Interview by Imelda Barnard.)

[T]he villa had at least four wings; the Lod mosaic served as the living-room floor and this new mosaic, which forms the southern part of the complex, was a “peristyle”—a paved courtyard surrounded by columns and corridors.

It’s a very rich, late Roman work, composed of rectangular concentric frames. Inside are nine medallions, octagonal in shape: five of these depict animals fighting or hunting; two depict fish, showing species from the Mediterranean Sea; and two others reveal birds—doves and partridges—beside objects, including an amphora and a basket of flowers. Based on the ceramic shards found during the excavation, and on numismatic as well as artistic grounds, we have dated it to the 3rd century. This mosaic is the best of the Roman tradition.

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