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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Mosaic with geometric design: fragment of geometric pattern (two of four fragments from a floor)
Work Type
2nd-3rd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Samaria (Palestine)
Roman Imperial period
Roman Imperial
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Stone tesserae
31.5" x 31" (2016.53.2)

Overall approximate dimensions with companion piece (2016.53.1, 2016.53.3): 200 cm h x 200 cm w x 6.4 cm d (78 3/4 x 78 3/4 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Stadium Building at Samaria/Sebaste, excavated; by the Joint Expedition to Samaria (Harvard University, Palestine Exploration Fund, Hebrew University Jerusalem, British Academy, the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem) (1931), dispersed; to Fogg Museum of Art, 1931.

NB: Excavated under the authority of the British Department of Antiquities, Jerusalem. Transferred to the Fogg Museum of Art in 1931 and accessioned in 2016.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of the Joint Expedition to Samaria, 1931-1933
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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One of four panels from a large, square floor pavement with geometric design and inscription (2016.53.4). The overall geometric design consists of lozenges pieced together at the corners to create smaller squares (the ‘lozenge-star-and-square pattern’) which radiate around a larger, central square (1). The lozenges are delineated by black borders and filled alternately with yellow and orange tesserae. The four small squares contain geometric filling ornaments: two Solomon’s knots and two rainbow patterns. A large square in the center is filled with a four-petalled, white flower on an orange background. A triple border surrounds the central geometric panel and consists of a guilloche (braided ribbon) in shades of orange, black, and white; a crowstep pattern in black; and a plain black band (2).

1. See a description of the motif in Catherine Balmelle. Le décor géométrique de la mosaïque romaine. Vol. 1. (Picard, 1985), 266-67 pl. 176.

2. AIEMA nos.194, 203, 205, Ruth and Asher Ovadiah, Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine Mosaic Pavements in Israel, (L’Erma di Bretschneider, 1987), p. 202, no.B2; crowstep: AIEMA no.162, Ovadiah p. 201, no. A4
The lozenge-star-and-square pattern is one of the most frequently represented designs throughout the Mediterranean during the Roman Imperial period (1) with earliest examples found in the first century CE. Early instances of the pattern are monochromatic, white lozenges outlined with black borders and simple black filler designs (2). During the late second and early third century CE, the floors become more elaborate with polychromatic fillers such as those found in the lozenges of the Samarian pavement. In some second and third century pavements, the designs also exhibit an increased tendency towards illusionism with shading in the lozenges and the filling ornaments, as can be seen in an early third century CE pavement from the House of the Drinking Contest at Antioch (3).

This pavement was found in the north colonnade of the Stadium at Samaria (4).

1. For a general overview of the motif and comparisons see C. Kondoleon Domestic and Divine: Roman Mosaics in the House of Dionysos (Cornell University Press, 1995), 51-61.

2. See, for example, the mosaic at Kouklia, Cyprus, in C. Kondoleon, p. 54, fig. 26.

3. See Princeton University Art Museum inv. Y1965-216, in D. Levi, Antioch Mosaic Pavements (Rome, 1947), 141-42, 393 pl. 101a; the influence of Antioch and other Syrian mosaic centers on the mosaics of Palestine can be seen at the site of Sepphoris, see discussion by R. Talgam and Z. Weiss, The Mosaics of the House of Dionysos at Sepphoris, QEDEM. 44 (2004).

4. J. Crowfoot and K. Kenyon, The Buildings at Samaria (London, 1942). p. 49.

Publication History

  • John W. Crowfoot, Samaria Excavations: The Stadium, Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement (1933), vol. 65, pp.62-73
  • Michael Avi-Yonah, Mosaic Pavements of Palestine, Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine (1934), vol. 3, pp. 26-73
  • John W. Crowfoot, Kathleen Kenyon, and E.L. Sukenik, The Buildings at Samaria (London, 1942)

Verification Level

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