Predators and Prey: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel

Waddesdon Manor

5 June – 2 November 2014

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Following its tour around the globe, a rare Roman mosaic pavement excavated in Israel is on display at Waddesdon.

In 1996, local roadworks being undertaken in Lod - a city just outside Tel Aviv - uncovered an incredible series of Roman mosaic floors. Following their excavation in 2009 by the Israel Antiquities Authority, the largest and most elaborate of the set has toured to museums across the world, including the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Louvre in Paris.

Although the site of Lod has been consistently occupied since antiquity, archaeological research conducted in the area has produced limited historical evidence. The discovery of the mosaic is therefore not only an insight into life in the ancient city, but also suggests there may be Roman treasures which still remain hidden.

For its display at Waddesdon, the mosaic is shown alongside contextual and contemporary objects from the Middle East on loan from the British Museum. The exhibition also explores the historical involvement of the Rothschild family in archaeological projects in the region, drawing on material from the Waddesdon archive.

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The Lod mosaic is believed to have belonged to a large and well-appointed Roman house and is dated to about A.D. 300. It depicts various birds, fish, and wild animals — including a lion and lioness, an elephant, a giraffe, a rhinoceros, a tiger and a bull. In Roman times, these creatures would have appeared at gladiatorial games, where they were pitted either against each other in battle.

Interestingly, none of the mosaics contains any human figures and because there is no overtly religious content, experts cannot determine whether the owner was pagan, Jew, or Christian.

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