Making and Meaning: The Hellenistic Mosaic from Tel Dor

Mosaic fragments from Tel Dor.
Mosaic fragments from Tel Dor.

The find from Tel Dor is a rare example of a virtuoso Hellenistic picture mosaic from the Levantine coast. A technical analysis of the fragments documents the techniques and sequence of its production. These methods suggest that the work was done by highly skilled, possibly itinerant craftsmen working in situ. This article places a variety of issues of craftsmanship within the broader scope of mosaic making in the Hellenistic period. In particular, the mosaic from Tel Dor falls within the production of a cosmopolitan group of mosaicists operating in two primary ways: traveling between cities to take up special commissions or setting up for longer periods of time in specific locations. The Levantine coast should now be added to the well-known areas of Hellenistic mosaic making. Epigraphic sources and new finds suggest a more vibrant craft in, and stemming from, this region, where mosaicists could easily find the two prerequisites for mosaic making: materials, including colored glass, and wealthy patrons who wanted high-quality floor mosaics.

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Making and Meaning: The Hellenistic Mosaic from Tel Dor

By Will Wootton

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 116, No. 2 (April 2012), pp. 209–234

DOI: 10.3764/aja.116.2.0209

© 2012 Archaeological Institute of America