14 December 2010
Posted by Paul Anater at 6:09 AM
In the summer of '09, the great Sara Baldwin sent me a link to a story about a Roman mosaic that had been discovered and preserved in Lod, Israel. The image above is the whole mosaic. It's a hi-res, so click it if you want a better view.
The mosaic was enormous, nearly 2,000 square feet and it was in a nearly pristine state. It had been discovered in 1996 and then buried again until 2004. By 2004, the Israeli Antiquities Authority had a plan and in that same year, they put that plan into action.
I have a thing for Roman art and mosaics, I've written about that on this blog a lot. So does Sara and that shared love of ancient mosaics is what drew the two of us together in the first place. I wrote about the Lod mosaic in June, 2009.
I added it to a very long list of things I wanted to see but figured I never would some time after I wrote that post.
At some point this past fall, another great woman and lover of all things Roman, JoAnn Locktov told me that the Lod Mosaic was coming to the US on a tour while the Israeli Antiquities Authority built the museum that will house it eventually. The first stop on that tour is the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
The exhibit opened at the end of September and it runs through April 3, 2011. So in what has to be one of the coolest coincidences ever, I went to see the Lod Mosaic on Saturday afternoon.
No matter how many photos of it I'd seen nothing prepared me for it fully. It's significantly larger than I thought it would be and the colors are shockingly bright.
Here are some detail shots I took on Saturday.
The Roman love of tile and mosaic are why were have tile bathrooms and kitchens today by the way. That civilization, more than any other ancient civilization, touches our daily lives almost continuously. Whether the custom in question is birthday cake or wedding rings or Christmas presents or tile bathrooms, the Romans played a role in all of that stuff.
More than any of that though, it's the imagery in Roman mosaics that speaks to me most profoundly.
One of the many things I love about Sara Baldwin and her company, New Ravenna, is their way of taking a page from the ancient Romans and interpreting that style for the here and now. I can't buy a Roman mosaic, no one can really. That's a good thing, surviving artifacts are a resource that belong to everybody. I can however, have a bathroom floor made that will remind me of the Roman floors I've seen and walked on. Here are some samples of New Ravenna's classically-inspired mosaic patterns.
Whether it's from Lod or from Exmore, VA; it's all pretty amazing stuff. If you'll be in New York between now and April, please spend a few hours at the Metropolitan Museum.