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OBJ Architectural Decoration - Detail Gerasa Synagogue, The Flood mosaic panel
Category: Architecture, Ancient Art
Name/Title: Gerasa Synagogue, The Flood mosaic panel
Object: Synagogue, Narthex, Mosaic floor
Artist/Maker: Unknown
Date: 5th cen. - 530 CE
Period: Byzantine (324 - 638)
Origin: Arabia, Gerasa
Community: Not relevant
Collection: Not relevant
Location: insitu
Site: Jordan: Jerash
School/Style: Not relevant
Gerasa Synagogue, drawing of the mosaic
Gerasa synagogue, Mosaic floor (Click to enlarge)
Gerasa synagogue, Mosaic floor, detail (Click to enlarge)
The Flood
Sanctuary Implements
Not relevant
Not relevant
Material & Technique
Tesserae material: Limestone
Tesserae arrangement:
Outlines -
   No. of lines:
   Surrounding lines:
Tesserae density (per 10sq. cm)-
Tesserae colors:

The mosaic floor is located in the nartex (vestibule). It consists of a long oblong central panel surrounded by a narrow border. In the center of the south side of the border is a panel of sanctuary implements with a Greek inscription. In it’s center is a curved seven-branched Menorah, standing on three legs. The Menorah is flanked by a Mahta and a Shofar on it’s right, and by a Lulab and an Ethrog on it’s left. The Greek inscription, inscribed in two columns on either side of the Menorah, reads as follow: “Holy place. Amen. Sela. Peace to the synagogue.”.

The left corner of the central panel was partly preserved, and shows a dove standing on a tree, carrying a branch in its beak.

Two of Noah’s sons are depicted beneath the tree, and to their right are animals, possibly all coming out from the Ark (Gen. 9) (which was possibly on the damaged part of the panel). Only the heads of Shem and Jafeth have remained, Inscribed above their heads, written in Greek: “Shem”, on the left, and “Jafeth”, on the right.

The animals on the right side of the central panel, are arranged in three rows, facing right.

The upper row shows the birds including doves, peacocks, and geese; the middle row portrays the beasts, such as horses, sheep, and gazelles; while the lower row contains reptiles and beasts, such as a hare and snakes.

The border frieze depicts beasts pursuing each other on the north side of the panel.

The panel was designed to be viewed from the south.

The mosaic floor was discovered under a church apse, that was built over the synagogue in 530 CE.
The left and right ends of the central panel were badly damaged. Only the upper part of the left side has preserved. The center of the first row of the fowl is partly damaged.
  1. Sukenik suggests that the beasts on the border panel describe the situation before the flood.
  2. Goodenough asserts that the beasts in the border symbolize immortality and after life.
  3. The mosaic floor is covered, and therefore was not documented by us.
C.H. Kraeling, Gerasa - City of the Decapolis, ASOR, New Haven, 1938, pp. 236-239.
S. Fine, Sacred Realm, Oxford, 1996, pp. 119, 170-171.
E L. Sukenik, Beth Alpha, p. 55-56, note no. 4.
Googenough, Vol. I, pp. 259-260.
J.W. Crowfoot, and R.W., Hamilton, The Discovery of a Synagogue at Jerash, PEQ, Vol. ???? (1930), pp. 211- 219.
Type: Photograph  
Photographer: Date: Negative no.:
Object: Photograph:  
Function: Name: Date:
Computer reconstructioner    
Architectural Drawings    
Documenter Levana Tsfania 1999
Researcher Levana Tsfania 1999
Section Head Orit Sehayek 1999
IJA No.:    
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