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A large peacock with wings closed stands under a tree, its head turned in profile looking back to the left.

The peahen (peacock’s female counterpart) is surrounded by white pieces with a few soft-red flower petals floating around. The bird’s head, neck, and belly are light blues; its beak, back, and feet are depicted in brown shades. A small tree (possibly a pomegranate tree) is on the right, its upper right section missing. A few branches have wide elliptical leaves in shades of browns; lights and darks convey depth and roundness of the trunk. There is a simple soft-red flower on a stem with two leaves, sprouting near the tree’s base. Everything is rendered in small mosaic pieces (tesserae).

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Mosaic Pavement Fragment with a Peahen
Other Titles
Former Title: Fragment of a Mosaic Pavement depicting a Peacock under a Tree
Work Type
5th-6th centuries
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Syria, Northwestern Syria
Roman Imperial period, Late, to Early Byzantine
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3460, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Art of the Ancient Mediterranean and Middle East
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Physical Descriptions

Stone and glass tesserae embedded in mortar
114 cm h x 103 cm w x 1.6 cm d (44 7/8 x 40 9/16 x 5/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[Richard C. Brockway, Ancient Art International, Middleboro, MA, 1997], sold; to Martha Gefter and Thomas Lemberg, Wayland, MA, (1997-2001), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2001.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Marcy Gefter and Thomas Lemberg in honor of David Gordon Mitten
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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The peahen is depicted mainly in profile with its head turned as it looks out over its back. It is a colorful fragment with accurate modeling of the tree, color, shading of foliage, and blue tones in the peahen's neck, which are formed by tesserae of blue glass.

Exhibition History

  • Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 3460 East Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project
  • Collection Highlights

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at