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Art Collection

Recently remodelled has a collection of Roman mosaics on display. The ten pieces exhibited, of Syrian origin, mostly date to the 4th-5th century AD, and they combine plant and animal motifs.

In the Roman era, the province of Syria was a flourishing market centre, and all types of craftsmanship were practiced in its cities. Of special note was the production of mosaics in the workshops of Antioch. The mosaic was a luxury item for wealthy homes, not only as a way to cover floors and walls, but also as a propaganda programme for the owner of the house.

In the pieces on display, we can see the primary characteristics of Syrian mosaics; the polychromy of all of the pieces and an iconographic repertoire which develops from the geometric motifs through combinations of very mixed shapes: circles, squares, meander and wave patterns, rhombuses, zigzags to animal motifs, often related with circus acts or the local fauna.

Beginning in the 4th century AD, the process of Christianisation of Roman society gave priority to a new decorative system that transformed the meaning of some of the objects already present in Syrian tradition. We can illustrate this with one of the mosaics in The Caesar: in it we see an eagle, a crater and two deer, all elements which were pagan symbols in the Roman era that were adapted to Eucharistic symbolism and symbols of eternity and immortality when Christianity was put in place. The flooring made up by rows of flowers is typical of Palestine churches of the 5th-6th century AD.