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.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.