Exhibitions/ Art Object

Mosaic of Lion

6th century
Made in Tunisia, excavated Hammam Lif Synagogue
Stone tesserae
29 5/16 x 42 1/4 x 1 5/8 in. (74.5 x 107.3 x 4.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum, New York, Museum Collection Fund (05.18)
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 lion from the southeastern portion of the floor resembles those found in Jewish art as well as in Christian mosaics and domestic settings of the period. It demonstrates how images took on various meanings in different religious and cultural contexts in the Byzantine world.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.