Thursday, February 08, 2007

Islamic Mosaic Discovered in Ramla, Israel

Ramla Mosaic with Solomon’s Seal
CC picture by Anita363 (c) from Flickr (Mosaic Mosaic)

Myriam Rosen-Ayalon from the Hebrew university in Jerusalem wrote in Israel Exploration Journal, Vo. 26, Jerusalem, Israel; pp. 104-119 about the eighth century mosaic that was found in 1973 in the yard of Mr. Sami Khuri of Tav-Kav-Beth Street in Ramla while he was preparing for canalization. The mosaic has three fragments.
On fragment B which is 3.20 meters wide and 4 meters long there are four hexagrams on a geometric composition complemented by floral motifs and isolated birds. Within each hexagram there is a fruit that looks like a citrus.

I found the references Myriam Rosen-Ayalon made to other Islamic findings very useful for my future research:
The six-pointed star sometimes occurred in pre-Islamic floor mosaics but mainly as an isolated motif. In some mosaics, the star was used as a frame for large compositions, or as a dominant subject, while in others it is just an isolated detail among a great variety of other geometric motifs. Three such examples are found in mosaics uncovered here:
and el-Makr.

Its ornamental use was continued for a long period, and can be seen on some fragments of stone carving in the synagogue o Capernaum, though probably unconnected to the Jewish symbol adopted in recent times…

it appears on funerary slabs from the second century of the Hijra, either completely isolated , or three in a row, or next to a slightly different motif of crossing squares.

A wood carving from Takrit in Iraq, perhaps a sarcophagus, dated to the
Abbasid period 9th century C.E. has a particularly elaborate decoration including six-pointed star is kept at the Metropolitan Museum

 A wood carving from Takrit
From: Maurice Dimard, Ars Islamica, 1937, p. 296 

Another wood carving bearing the star motif is part of the minbar (pulpit) of Kairouan, dated A.D. 786-808 and also said to be from Mesopotemia.

Whithin the Umayyad period this motif is found at Khirbat al-Mafjar.

It exists as an isolated item and also in an overall pattern, as in our mosaic, in a grille decoration of a stucco window…Umayyad carved marble slab from the Grewat Mosque of Damascus.

A wooden panel from the Al Aqsa carvings …(A.D. 780)…

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