Sunday, June 03, 2018

The pagan-themed synagogue mosaic at Hammat Tiberias

ATLAS OBSCURA: Zodiac Mosaic of Hammat Tiberias. The mosaic floor of a 4th-century synagogue features a pagan zodiac wheel alongside traditional images of a Torah ark and menorahs (Joel Cusumano).
What turns heads is the rest of the mosaic. In the center panel sits a magnificent zodiac wheel, featuring, among other pagan images, depictions of naked humans—including a conspicuously uncircumcised Libra. The wheel encircles a haloed Helios, the Greek sun god, mounted atop his chariot. Women representing each of the four seasons sit to the corners of the zodiac, with the accompanying Hebrew inscription of the names of the seasons.
A nice photo essay.

I have discussed the cultural background of this synagogue mosaic (and other similar ones) here. More recently, another zodiac mosaic featuring Helios in his chariot was found in the Huqoq Synagogue.

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