Text-division in Greek mosaic inscriptions from the Near East | University of Oxford

Text-division in Greek mosaic inscriptions from the Near East

Speaker
Dr Michael Zellmann-Rohrer, St Cross
Event date
Event time
17:00 - 18:30
Venue
Merton College
Merton Street
Oxford
Oxfordshire
OX1 4JD
Venue details

Fitzjames I

Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Free
Disabled access?
Yes
Booking required
Required

Mosaic pavements offer a striking combination of image and text in the decorative programs of civic and private spaces. The technique spread widely across the ancient Mediterranean, but there is especially rich documentation from the Near East in the late Roman through early Byzantine periods, on which this paper focuses. As an introduction, I consider the typology and diachronic development of mosaics in the region. I then examine the interaction of text and image in four well-known mosaic pavements from ancient Syria, Palestine, and Arabia: the mosaic of Socrates and the Seven Sages from Heliopolis-Baalbek; the so-called House of Leontios at Beth She‘an-Skythopolis; the mosaic map from Madaba; and the church decorations of Mt. Nebo. In addition to the layout of text as explanation of, and independent accompaniment to the artistic decoration, I consider significant trends in the division of the texts by punctuation marks, spacing, line breaks, geometric borders, and coloration. In closing I offer a comparative perspective on mosaics with inscriptions in Syriac and Palestinian Aramaic from the same region.