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   The mosaics of the Basilica of Moses



-The Cross
-Geom. panel
-Cella Tricora

-S. Baptistery

-S. Baptistry


Itinerant Craftsmen

The rendering of the gazelles both in this mosaic and in the baptistery, the general set out of both compositions, the use of a line of lunes alternated with squares or circles outside the band, the precise laying out technique, with great attention given to detail, leads one to hypothesize that both chapels, chronologically not too distant from one another, were decorated by the same mosaicists

The striking resemblance of the gazelle, found in the apse of the Theotokos Chapel, with the gazelle, that nibbles the leaves of a small tree, brought to light in the presbytery of the church of the Lions at Umm al-Rasas - Kastron Mefaa, in the territory of the diocese of Madaba, a mosaic carried out at the time of Bishop Sergius, has lead me to a deeper examination of both decorative programmes which present more similarities . The same solution is adopted in both presbyteries, with the semicircular apsidal area decorated by a field of flowers enclosed by a band which ends against the rectangular panel placed in front of the altar, with the addition, externally along the perimeter of the apse of a line of rhombi and squares. In both the decorative programmes we find the two bulls facing each other on either side of the altar, depicted with a bell hanging from their neck, as well as the double gazelle at the edge of the panel.

Further motifs common in both mosaics are the repeated fruit with knife, the pears and pomegranates facing each other and, particularly the hunting scene at the centre of the nave in the Theotokos Chapel and in the nave of the church of the Lions, in front of the step leading to the presbytery. In both scenes, the hunters (or presumed so) present a movement towards the right away from a building rendered on the left and occupying the whole height of the panel

The bird that pecks a branch in the baptistery at Mt. Nebo and a similar bird found in the band in the presbytery of the Church of the Lions, as well as the rendering of the motifs in the band behind the font which are repeated in the medallions in the Church of the Lions, could be elements which are sufficient to tie together both these works.

Such resemblances together with the beauty as well as the technical accuracy employed might lead one to suppose that the same team of mosaicists was responsible for all three mosaics. This rather than a simple use of the same models by different teams. If our conclusions are correct we have the same group of itinerant mosaicists active at Mt. Nebo as well as Umm al-Rasas forty kilometers away .


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Created by John Abela ofm. Updated by John Abela ofm / Carmelo Pappalardo ofm
On Saturday, 31 July, 2004 at 5:21:50 pm
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