הרשות למחקר ופיתוח, האוניברסיטה העברית בירושלים

Mosaics of Faith; Floors of Pagans, Jews, Samaritans, Christians, and Muslims in the Holy Land.

Yad Ben-Zvi Press and Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 2014.
Prof. Rina Talgam


Mosaics of Faith offers a comprehensive analytical history of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad and Early ‘Abbāsid mosaics in the Holy Land (present-day Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority). During these periods the Holy Land became a central arena where different faiths met, communicated, competed and conflicted with each other. Mosaics are not mere decorations, for when approaches critically they can be read as first-rate historical documents that sharpen and refine our understanding of societies, their ideologies, institutions, and liturgies. The inclusion of mosaics in the scholarly discourse makes possible a richer perception of the past and sheds light on both the intimate links and the disjunctions between art and text. The book demonstrates how mosaics played an important role in constructing cultural, religious, and ethnic identities in a ,multicultural society and follows the intricate visual dialogue among paganism, Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, and Islam.

The mosaics located in private and public spheres, in both secular and religious buildings, were often intended to reflect the difference among the various communities, but they also testify to the existence of an extensive commonality. The book examines the relations between the religious and secular spheres and indicates a considerable degree of dynamism in the drawing of the boundaries between them over the course of time. What makes this endeavor both timely and imperative are recent archeological discoveries that have considerably enriched the existing corpora and, above all, have challenged prevailing assumptions.

The wide chronological range (a millennium) that is examined in this book enables one also to trace the processes of continuity and change in the transition between the periods along the diachronic axis. The discussion of the mosaics touches upon a long list of questions and deals with all aspects of the mosaics. Alongside the study of iconographic aspects, it examined the compositional characteristics, the style, and the technique of the mosaic.


Prof. Rina Talgam's website