The Lod Mosaic

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Lode Mosaic central panel

The Lod mosaic was discovered in Lod (formerly Lydda) Israel during highway construction. A rescue excavation was immediately conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority revealing a series of mosaic floors measuring approximately 50 feet long by 27 feet wide. An excellent website documenting the find can be found at The age of the mosaic is 300-400 AD based on pottery fragments found at the site. No one can say for sure what type of building it was used for or whether the owners were Roman, Christian or Jewish.

We saw the mosaic at the Field Museum in Chicago and it is a beauty. The central panel is shown above and it is flanked by two panels. It is so large that it is difficult to photograph but I have included closups to show the amazing workmanship. The large square in the center (shown above) depicts mostly peaceful animals, apart from a lion on top of a deer in what looks like a mutually consensual act rather than an assault, and a gazelle freshly killed by a lion (see below). Miriam Avissar, the archaeologist who discovered the mosaic, thought that the exotic animals might allude to public spectacles in regional amphitheaters, where such creatures could occasionally be seen. Flanking the central panel to the north and south are two smaller, rectangular end panels.

The north panel explores the same theme as the main panel with various creatures. I particularly like the scene of a mother partridge with her chicks (see below).

The south panel is devoted to a single marine scene, complete with two Roman merchant ships.



This is a very cool exhibit and it seems to be traveling around the country since it was previously at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and in San Francisco. After the Field Museum it is scheduled for the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. It may be exhibited elsewhere after that, if you get a chance, be sure to see it.