Scenes from Tree of Paradise - Jewish Roman Mosaics from Tunisia

01
of 10

Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of Male Figure in Medallion

Mosaic of Male Figure in Medallion
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.28 Mosaic of Male Figure in Medallion, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 1st century-2nd century A.D.
21 1/8 x 21 1/8in. (53.7 x 53.7cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.
According to the Brooklyn Museum, despite graven image injunctions, human figures have been found on ancient synagogue floors, so the sanctuary floor of the synagogue as the original location of this mosaic of a male figure cannot be ruled out.

02
of 10

Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of a Hyena

Mosaic of a Hyena
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.33 Mosaic of a Hyena, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 1st century-2nd century A.D.? or 19th C imitation.
18 1/4 x 18 1/4in. (46.3 x 46.3cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.

03
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Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of Square Basket with Fruit

Mosaic of Square Basket with Fruit
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.24 Mosaic of Square Basket with Fruit, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 3rd century-5th century A.D.
Mosaic
27 3/4 x 23 13/16in. (70.5 x 60.5cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.
Two baskets are enclosed in a vine, which symbolized divine order, according to the Brooklyn Museum. The square basket holds fruit and the round basket holds bread.

04
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Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of Menorah

Mosaic of Menorah
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.27 Mosaic of Menorah, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 3rd century-5th century A.D.
Mosaic 22 7/16 x 35 1/4in. (57 x 89.5cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.
Menorahs are seven-branched oil lamps. The Brooklyn Museum says the shape of the menorah resembles the one shown as plunder on the Arch of Titus, meaning it is a Second Temple period menorah. What the seven lights represent has been variously interpreted to refer to the days of the week, the planets, or the presence of God.

05
of 10

Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of a Lion in a Roundel

Mosaic of a Lion in a Roundel
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.32 Mosaic of a Lion in a Roundel, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 1st century-2nd century A.D.
Mosaic
21 5/16 x 21 5/16in. (54.1 x 54.1cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.

06
of 10

Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of a Gazelle in a Vine

Mosaic of a Gazelle in a Vine
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.31 Mosaic of a Gazelle in a Vine, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 1st century-2nd century A.D.
Mosaic
27 15/16 x 27 15/16in. (71 x 71cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.

07
of 10

Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of Duck Facing Right

Mosaic of Duck Facing Right
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.19 Mosaic of Duck Facing Right, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 3rd century-5th century A.D.
Mosaic
21 3/4 x 33 3/8in. (55.3 x 84.7cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.
The duck appears to be used to symbolize rebirth and creation.

08
of 10

Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of Fish Facing Right

Mosaic of Fish Facing Right
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.16 Mosaic of Fish Facing Right, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 3rd century-5th century A.D.
Mosaic
18 11/16 x 31 3/4in. (47.5 x 80.6cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.
The fish is a fertility symbol and was also used not only by Christians, but by Jews to refer to the faithful.

09
of 10

Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of Rooster

Mosaic of Rooster
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.23 Mosaic of Rooster, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 3rd century-5th century A.D.
Mosaic
22 x 29 1/2in. (55.9 x 75cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.

10
of 10

Roman Mosaic - Mosaic of Round Basket with Bread

Mosaic of Round Basket with Bread
Male Figure | Hyena | Square Basket with Fruit | Menorah | Lion | Gazelle | Duck | Fish | Rooster | Round Basket with Bread.

05.25 Mosaic of Round Basket with Bread, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 3rd century-5th century A.D.
Mosaic
27 9/16 x 23 1/4in. (70 x 59cm).
From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.
The round basket of bread is not part of pagan symbolism, but is described in Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8 as among the objects needed for the consecration of a priest. Similar baskets of bread appear in Christian churches in Roman North Africa. The Brooklyn Museum suggests the basket of bread may symbolize hope for the resurrection of the Temple in Jerusalem.

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Gill, N.S. "Scenes from Tree of Paradise - Jewish Roman Mosaics from Tunisia." ThoughtCo, Jan. 16, 2018, thoughtco.com/tree-of-paradise-jewish-roman-mosaics-120803. Gill, N.S. (2018, January 16). Scenes from Tree of Paradise - Jewish Roman Mosaics from Tunisia. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/tree-of-paradise-jewish-roman-mosaics-120803 Gill, N.S. "Scenes from Tree of Paradise - Jewish Roman Mosaics from Tunisia." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/tree-of-paradise-jewish-roman-mosaics-120803 (accessed June 19, 2018).