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Title: Storytelling on the Mosaic Floors of Late Antique Sepphoris
Authors: Schneck, Nomi
Advisors: Barber, Charles
Kitzinger, Beatrice
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Late Antiquity
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2024
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation investigates how visual narratives on Late Antique floor mosaics prompt both visual reception and physical engagement. Sepphoris, an archaeological site in the lower Galilee of present-day Israel, serves as a key site for understanding mosaic narratives. The ability to examine the material remains in its original architectural and urban placement allows for an exceptional opportunity to understand Late Antique mosaics within their spatial context. In addition, as a multicultural urban hub that transitioned and flourished from the classical era to the rise of Islam and housed Jewish, pagan, and Christian populations, Sepphoris’s range of mosaics showcasing narratives from both Greco-Roman mythology and the Bible in a variety of types of spaces, from private homes to communal buildings, offers unique access to analyzing the role of narratives on mosaic floors. Throughout the study, I elaborate on the importance of the field of narratology for mosaic studies, both in terms of attention to the details of the scenic composition as well as the experience of navigating a mosaic within its spatial context. Each of the central four chapters introduces a methodological approach for understanding floor mosaics through centering on a monument at Sepphoris, from the third-century Orpheus House and the House of Dionysos to the fifth-century Nile Festival House and synagogue. In addition to the Sepphoris floors, this study incorporates a wide range of literary and visual sources to demonstrate how mosaic floors serve as a point of departure for Late Antique cultural trends that exceed a particular medium. Through this integrated approach, beyond bridging art historical and archaeological work on floor mosaics, this dissertation contributes to the cultural life of the Late Antique Mediterranean region, addressing the continued presence of Greco-Roman mythological content, mapping place within a larger geographic network, creative developments in biblical interpretation, and the activities of the dining room and the synagogue. Combined, the visual and literary material uncovers the complexity of how narratives functioned on the mosaic floor within the cultural dynamics of Late Antiquity.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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