Animals Hunting

Animals Hunting

Roman, c. 450–520 A.D.
Daphne, House of the Worcester Hunt, Turkey

Mosaic of stone tesserae

Purchase, 1937, with conservation treatment funded by the Academy Guild (4672)

This mosaic was excavated from one of many villas in Daphne, the luxurious garden suburb of Antioch near the present-day border between Turkey and Syria. Founded in 300 B.C., Antioch had become by the fourth century A.D. one of the major cosmopolitan centers of the ancient world, and sophisticated mosaics that adapted Greek and Roman traditions decorated its public and private spaces. This example is in the so- called carpet style, in which figures and other pictorial motifs appear across a neutral ground. Its rectilinear composition is anchored at the center by a striding lion; surrounding the lion are animals in combat. A tigress and her cub pursue a stag, a lioness chases a pair of rams, a leopard attacks an ostrich, and a zebu confronts a bear. A hare and various birds fill the spaces between the struggling animals. Careful placement of the tesserae (colored stone tiles) defines the animalsʼ anatomy, while contrasts and contour produced by the juxtaposition of different colors and tones gives them solidity and vitality. The selection of animals evokes the wild-beast hunts and other popular spectacles presented in Roman arenas. 

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Syrian Hunting Lodge Article

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