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Floor Mosaic Depicting the Cities of Memphis and Alexandria

Date:
ca. 540
Geography:
Made in Jordan, excavated Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Gerasa
Medium:
Limestone in ivory, dark ocher, beige, light gray, dark gray, and shades of red
Dimensions:
156 x 240 in. (396.3 x 609.6 cm)
Classification:
Mosaics
Credit Line:
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Excavated by the Yale–British School Archaeological Expedition, 1928–29 (1932.1735)
  • Description

    This mosaic from a church floor in the affluent city of Gerasa (modern Jerash) depicts two major Egyptian cities identified in Greek as Alexandria (left) and Memphis (right), sites on the trade routes that made the Byzantine Empire’s southern provinces wealthy. The inscription identifies the donor as "my bishop . . . Anastasios" and describes the church as "adorned . . . with silver and beautifully colored stones." The motifs—cityscapes, trees, vase with vines, and inscription—were popular throughout the Byzantine Empire and transitioned into the arts of the emerging Islamic world.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: In Greek, central tabula ansata: Certainly, my bishop brings beautiful marvels
    to the people who inhabit this city and land, because he built a house [ of worship ] to Peter and Paul, the chiefs of the disciples ( for the Savior imparted the authority to them ), and adorned it with silver and beautifully colored stones; the renowned Anastasios who teaches the true precepts of God; [over cities, from left to right:] Pharos, Alexandria, Memphis

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