Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel: Insights and Interpretations

Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel: Insights and Interpretations

Lecture by Christopher Lightfoot

Given at the Columbus Museum of Art on December 2, 2012

In 1996, workmen widening a road in Lod (formerly Lydda), Israel, made a startling discovery: signs of a Roman mosaic pavement were found about three feet below the modern ground surface. A rescue excavation conducted immediately by the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed a mosaic floor approximately 50 feet long by 27 feet wide. Of exceptional quality and in an excellent state of preservation, the complete mosaic, comprising seven panels, is symmetrically divided into two large “carpets” by a long rectangular horizontal panel. To preserve the mosaic, it was reburied until funding was secured for its full scientific excavation and conservation in 2009.

The mosaic floor is believed to come from the home of a wealthy Roman living in the Eastern Roman Empire at about 300 CE. Because the mosaic’s imagery has no overt religious content, it cannot be determined whether the owner was a pagan, a Jew, or a Christian.

Christopher Lightfoot, Curator in the Department of Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, offers insights on the Lod Mosaic. A specialist on the subject of ancient glass and numismatics, Dr. Lightfoot oversaw the day-to-day management of the reinstallation of the New Greek and Roman Galleries that opened in April 2007. Dr. Lightfoot was educated at the University of Oxford, he earned his doctoral degree in Ancient History with a dissertation about the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire.

The mosaic will be on display at Penn Museum from February 10, for a run through May 12, 2013, before going to Europe.

See also The Lod Mosaic Website

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