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The Lod Mosaic at the Metropolitan Museum of Art This Fall

On 01, Jun 2010 | 5 Comments | In Uncategorized | By man-admin

We have been following the story of the 1,700 year old Lod Mosaic since last summer when the mosaic was unveiled to the public. (MAN June 16, July 2, July 5 video, and October 29). It has been characterized as “an archeological gem” and “one of the most magnificent and largest mosaics ever revealed in Israel.” It is nothing short of magnificent.

Mosaic lovers and “Roman”tics in the United States will be able to see portions of the mosaic when they are on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from September 28, 2010 through April 3, 2011. This is an incredible opportunity to see a phenomenal piece of history in mosaic. If you can go, do so.

The Met sent us the following press release with a wonderful curatorial description of the work. Unless noted, all photos are courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority. They are high-resolution, so be sure to click on them for wonderful details.

Enjoy — Nancie

In 1996, workmen widening the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv 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 was conducted immediately by the Israel Antiquities Authority, revealing a mosaic floor that measures approximately 50 feet long by 27 feet wide. It is of exceptional quality and in an excellent state of preservation. The mosaic, comprising seven panels, is symmetrically divided into two large “carpets” by a long rectangular horizontal panel, and the entire work is surrounded by a ground of plain white.

To preserve the mosaic, it was reburied until funding was secured for its full scientific excavation and conservation. Recently removed from the ground, the three most complete and impressive panels will be exhibited to the general public for the first time when they go on display at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 28. The pavement is believed to come from the home of a wealthy Roman living in the Eastern Roman Empire in around A.D. 300. 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.

AP Photo/Sebastian Schneider

The exhibition is made possible by Diane Carol Brandt in memory of Ruth and Benjamin Brandt.
Exhibition Overview

The exhibition will highlight the three large panels found in what was probably a large audience room. Within the central panel—which measures 13 feet square—is a series of smaller squares and triangles depicting various birds, fish, and animals that surround a larger octagonal scene with ferocious wild animals—a lion and lioness, an elephant, a giraffe, a rhinoceros, a tiger, and a bull. Such animals were well known to the Romans since they appeared at gladiatorial games, where they were pitted either against each other or against human adversaries. The mosaic may therefore represent the largesse that the owner had conferred by staging games with wild animal hunts. 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; the south panel is devoted to a single marine scene. A striking feature of all the mosaics is that none of them contains any human figures.

The exhibition will also relate the history of the discovery and the story of the mosaic’s removal, conservation, and eventual journey to New York.

Historical Background

Lod is located near Tel Aviv, and the site was initially settled in the fifth millennium B.C. Its name appears in the written record as early as 1465 B.C.—in a list of towns in Canaan that was compiled during the reign of the pharaoh Thutmose III—and also in the Old and New Testaments. In the first century A.D., the inhabitants of Lod were sold into slavery and subsequently the town was razed. A Roman city was established there in A.D. 200, and at that time most of its inhabitants were Christian.

During the lifting of the mosaic in September 2009 preliminary sketches were found etched in the mortar setting bed. The footprints of several workers involved in laying the floor—some wearing sandals and others working barefoot—were also found.

Related Programs

A variety of education programs will complement the exhibition. These include gallery talks by exhibition curator Christopher Lightfoot, a hands-on workshop for teens, family programs, and a series of lectures. The Sunday at the Met program on October 3 will feature lectures about the discovery and conservation of the mosaic by conservator Jacques Neguer and archaeologist Miriam Avissar. This event will be co-organized by representatives of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The exhibition will be featured on the website of the Metropolitan Museum (


At the Metropolitan, the exhibition is overseen by Christopher S. Lightfoot, Associate Curator, Department of Greek and Roman Art.
The Lod Mosaic is on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center.

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  1. Deb Aldo

    I was researching ancient byzantine mosaics and a picture or you and Bill came up. Arms around each other- Made me smile and want to cry at the same time. Miss him very much but sure it's worse for you. Condolences.

    Best with Mosaic Art Now and the wonderful blog. All my best!

  2. Paul Anater

    No way! I have been dreaming of this mosaic since I first heard about it (from you if I'm not mistaken) and man oh man oh man oh man just to have the chance to see it in person? Wow. Thanks Nancie!

  3. Maureen

    I try to come here whenever a new post pops up on my blogroll. I always find your posts informative and a delight to read. I've only recently become smitten with mosaics and having seen the wonders that can be made of them, I'm hooked. Thank you.

    The Met exhibit will be quite wonderful. I just spent time there a few weeks ago. With my son now living in NYC, I now have two good reasons to visit as often as possible.

  4. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    Maggie, you have no idea how much I needed to hear that today. We bloggers "work in the dark" — putting heart and mind into creating content that we know we won't be paid for. How then can we know that we have done something valuable? Or that others share our passion? Comments are golden. As are publication orders, of course!

    Anyway, you picked a perfect day to say thanks and I'm grateful.

  5. Maggie

    Thank you for existing basically and for providing information that would otherwise remain in the dark.

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