Exhibitions/ Art Object

Mosaic of Menorah

6th century
Made in Tunisia, excavated Hammam Lif Synagogue
Stone tesserae
22 7/16 x 35 1/4 x 1 3/4 in. (57 x 89.5 x 4.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum, New York, Museum Collection Fund (05.27)
Not on view
The Hammam Lif Synagogue
A large mosaic found at the Tunisian town of Hammam Lif is so closely aligned with regional conventions that its structure was first identified as a Byzantine church. The presence of a Latin dedicatory inscription identifying the site as "Sancta Sinagoga" (Holy Synagogue), flanked by two Menorahs, revealed that it was a synagogue. The floor consisted of four mosaic carpets, integrating distinctly Jewish symbolism with popular motifs of the period, including a lion.
The menorah was the primary symbol of Judaism in the late Antique and early Islamic worlds and is represented here in a manner that resembles depictions in synagogue mosaics and on liturgical objects from the Byzantine sphere. The two menorah panels flanked the Latin inscription on the synagogue’s floor.