Christian floor mosaics: Modes of study and potential meanings

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Mosaic floors are a modest artistic medium that does not bear comparison in its content with the wall mosaics that once adorned the important and wealthy churches of the Christian world. Given the restrictions that Christians imposed upon themselves with regard to what was worthy of depiction on areas where people would tread, the creators of the floor mosaics were obliged to adopt a more limited repertoire of motifs of a secular nature. Only on rare occasions do we find an exception to the perception that considered floor mosaics an unfitting place for the depiction of human figures from the Scriptures. Nevertheless, mosaic floors provide much information that sheds light on significant processes in the fields of religion and society in Late Antiquity. In order to understand Christian floor mosaics one must compare them with their predecessors in the Roman Empire and to the mosaics of other communities, primarily those in synagogues. This study examines to what extent the floor mosaics helped to clarify the symbolism of the church building, explain the liturgy, and intensify the religious experience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781315718835
StatePublished - 2018


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