Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the Iconography of Church Sanctuary Mosaics
|Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the places of the birth of the Savior and of his death and resurrection, the town-symbols of the Heavenly Empire and of the Theophany of Christ, are represented with a specific iconography in the mosaics of the triumphal arches or apses of several early Christian and mediaeval churches in Italy.
Those towns are found facing one another with enclosure walls studded with gems, reminiscent of the description of Jerusalem in Rev 21:9-21, 1 often with six lambs each, symbols of the twelve Apostles. 2 In the Ephesinus arch of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome the lambs are grouped next to the city gate of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, whereas in other cases the lambs are drawn six on a side, coming out of the two cities. 3
This iconography, more developed in monumental mosaic decoration, is also frequently found in sculpture, as on the "city gates" sarcophagus of S. Ambrogio in Milan , 4 where the symbolic transposition of Christ and the twelve Apostles appears clearly. Christ is in the middle as the Mystic Lamb on the mountain of Paradise between the twelve lambs. In the triumphal arch of the apse of S. Vitale, there are only the two cities studded with gems, which sum up the concept of heavenly empire.
Probably this subject has a Constantinian origin in the apse decoration of the old S. Pietro, probably continuing the lost mosaic of Innocent III. 5 Under the Christ in glory between Peter and Paul is a nilotic landscape with the four rivers in the middle, in which two deer are drinking. The lower register is decorated by the two processions of lambs coming out of the Holy Cities approaching the Lamb on the mountain of paradise.
The glorification of the Throne and of the Lamb is shown on the front side of the Samagher reliquary in a composition which seems to reflect the one on the apse in the Vatican. 6
In the traditio scene, as in the Constantinian mosaic on a small apse in Santa Costanza, the two cities, summarily indicated, are wings for the princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. 7
We find this subject in other Roman mosaics with the Epiphany of Christ, (in the apse of S. Cosma and Damiano and later in Santa Prassede), in the frieze with the two Holy Cities, the Lambs-Apostles, the Mystic Lamb on the mountain of paradise with the four rivers, under the Jordan River, as indicated by the inscription. 8
This subject is well known in monumental iconography and is prominently used in the sanctuary, its depiction on the apse or the triumphal arch of the churches in Italy is wide spread from the Constantinian period to the Mediaeval period. 9
The significance of the composition with the Lamb on the mountain of Paradise with the four rivers and the two cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem is clear. It is the glorification of Christ's birth and sacrifice, expressed by the two city symbols of the Incarnation and of the Resurrection, an idealized vision of the Kingdom of Christ and the universality of the Church.
This complex iconography is not only found on the wall decoration in the West, but also in the floor pavements. An interesting case comes from Syria in a floor mosaic of the bema that came to light in a three-aisled church in Tayybat al-Imam, near Hama, thanks to the Director of the Archaeological Museum of Hama, Abdul Razaq Zaqzuq, who published it in 1995. 10
The mosaic is of great interest for the depictions of different types of religious buildings, 11 that fill the geometric divisions of the central aisle, alternating with the well-known motif of animals - birds and quadrupeds - on the sides of the life source, and the phoenix, and other subjects in the small side apse with scenes of the chase and the transportation of the ark on a litter brought by mules, as in a similar mosaic floor in the Michaelion of Huarte.
In that church the bema mosaic depicts a complex paradise scene with mirror-image elements along a central axis. Beginning from the entrance of the bema, in the center is a tabula ansata with the dedicatory inscription of the donor Alexandra and other relatives in fulfillment of a vow. 12 The tabula is flanked by a river populated by fish and aquatic birds; the river begins from the four rivers of paradise, distinguished by the inscriptions GEON PHISON TIGRIS EUPHRATES, and it comes down from the mountain of paradise, on which there is an eagle, instead of the usual lamb.
On the river bank, at the sides of the mountain and the eagle, there are four deer, watering at the life source, two on a side, alternating with thin cypress trees. 13
Two blooming trees are the landscape for the two quadrupeds, above which, in the upper register, two peacocks strut, alternating with three aediculae of great interest. Those are niches on columns: the external column supports a pyramidal roof while the central column supports a domed roof. The intercolumnations - except for the frontal one - are closed by transennae.
Instead of the two lateral pavilions, the structure contains, between two lighted candles, a fountain on a tall small column, flanked by little plants; the one in the middle pavilion shows the figure of the Lamb between two vela framed by two candles, with a hanging lamp in the middle. This symbolic figure, of course alluding to Christ, corresponds semantically and compositionally to the large eagle on the mountain of paradise.
The eastern panel of the Tayybat al-Imam mosaic
|Over the peacocks, between the architecture, are representations of the two Holy Cities with the respective inscriptions BETHLEEM EIEROUS.... Both are characterized by a large basilical building in the middle of the multi-towered enclosure walls, certainly the sanctuaries that should mark the two cities, the Church of the Nativity and the complex of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which, although damaged, is characterized by a five (perhaps) aisled basilica. By the sides of the Holy Cities and connected with the pyramidal roof of the lateral pavilions there are, one on each side, two radiant phoenixes in profile and two free birds connected with the large tabula ansata containing the dedicatory inscription that provides the date of the mosaic: 754 of the Seleucid era, corresponding to 442 A.D. 14
That floor mosaic is the only one in the area in which the two facing cities, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, are found together, as in the monumental iconography just mentioned. A possible second example is the two opposed buildings in the similar and more condensed composition of the Junca mosaic in Tunisia , which may allude to the two Holy Palestinian Cities. 15
Similarly the presence of the Lamb is an exception in an architectonic context, which creates a special sacred regality. The figure alludes to the Paschal Lamb and the Resurrection and, as Celestial Lamb, might have an eschatological significance. The double life source can be connected with those meanings. It is placed inside a pavilion with two candles, while on the roof stands the radiant phoenix; it is an element of great importance connected with the central aedicula to which the two peacocks (specific animals of paradise) are turned.
The other vegetal elements and the animals are known from the thematic repertory of the Syro-Palestinian mosaics; but the deer watering ad fontes aquarum (alluding to Psalm 42 (41):2 of the baptismal liturgy, typical of the wall and floor mosaics of the West, are very unusual. In the Middle East perhaps there are only the cases in Syria of Rabât and Rayân and in Lebanon of Azwai and in the church of Khaldé, where the deer approach a fountain, a kind of phyale on a pedestal, 16 like the similar one with the two opposed pavilions.
Here also aquatic animals, like the fish or ducks that frame the mosaic of the central aisle of St. Stephen at Umm al-Rasas, 17 fully populate the large river originating from the four rivers of paradise; the large river, as in the iconography of the Roman apse of S. Cosma and Damiano and Santa Prassede, can be identified with the Jordan.
The relationship between the four rivers and the Jordan, cosmic river also in mediaeval mosaics (continuing the early Christian model) of the apse of the old S. Pietro and the cathedral of Rome, is expressed by Gregory of Nyssa in his De Baptismo: the Jordan surrounds paradise and comes down by the four rivers, to which it is assimilated. 18
In our mosaic, instead of the canonic Lamb on the mountain, typos of the holy nature of Christ and symbol of the logos, we find the regal eagle which can also be understood as a symbol of the Resurrection because of its placement. This concept is expressed by the double phoenix in the upper register and is also connected with the significance of eternity of the peacock, 19 but above all, this meaning is expressed in the regal architecture, with the Lamb, the sign of Death and Resurrection, which begins the reign of Christ and the Church. 20
The sacred character of this composition completely accords with the sacred place that decorates the bema, like many other generic compositions with the meaning of paradise, well known in the floor mosaics of the sanctuary area in the Middle East. 21
We can see not only the ideal vision of the peace of the celestial Kingdom achieved by the Resurrection (Rev 4:5), but also a sacramental significance, or an ecclesiastic one, shown by the hierarchic succession of the lower to upper registers: the deer watering at the water of the life source and the Jordan allude to baptism, the means of entering the celestial kingdom (John 3:5); it is the figure of the resurrected Christ and symbol of the eucharist, 22 like the glorification of the Lamb, evident by its central position and by the architecture.
Especially in the context of the two Holy Cities of the Incarnation and the Resurrection and in the Epiphany of the Lamb, apocalyptic sign of Christ the Savior, framed by sacred architecture, we can understand an allusion to the sepulchre of Christ, symbolic and regal image of celestial Jerusalem, of the kingdom of Christ and the Church. 23
Perhaps it is the same concept later expressed in some mediaeval manuscript illustrations of the Apocalypse, 24 as, for example, in the Valenciennes (Bibl. Munic: no. 99, fol. 38, 9th cent.), or the Bibl. Nat. of Paris (Nouv. Acq., Lat. 1132, fol. 33/r, 10th cent), or of the Bamberg manuscript (Staatsbibliotek, Cod. 140, fol. 53, Henrico II, Reichenau of 1000), where the Lamb stands in the middle of the celestial Jerusalem, sedes Dei et Agni (Rev 22:1-2).
|The architecture of our mosaic connects the Lamb with other figures characterized by pavilions enclosed by grills and identifiable as an allusion to the aedicula of the Holy Sepulchre, as in different types of devotional objects, like the Palestinian metallic ampullas preserved in Monza and Bobbio, 25 the glass chalice of the Dumbarton Oaks Collection in Washington, the ivory pyxes of Cleveland and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, a depiction of the Anastasis with the Sepulchre on the lid of a wooden case in the Vatican, 26 as well as floor mosaics in Syria, especially the mosaic of Hama. 27
In our case, the Lamb, to which an undeniable sacredness is given by its isolation in the architecture and its central position in the composition, as the sign of the Resurrection, means the same as the altar or the cross in the representations of those aedicula of the Holy Sepulchre just mentioned, so it is a clear sign of Christ's Resurrection. The aedicula which has great sacral and liturgical characteristics as the two flanking it, like the curtains and the hanging lamp, could allude to the Holy Sepulchre, the temple par excellence.
The image of the Holy Sepulchre of the Metropolitan Museum pyx, as in the Hama mosaic fragment, shows a hanging lamp, while the Sepulchre of the Cleveland pyx has the fountain by the sides of the central way, as in our case two pavilions.
The connection between the Holy Sepulchre and the fountain of life is attested in later sources: as in the De Imaginibus of St. John of Damascus, the Sepulchre is zoephoros and in the Oratio I.a the Holy Grave is the source of our Resurrection (he pege tes anastaseos).
Probably it is for this reason that in the mediaeval miniatures the fons vitae appears inside an aedicula recalling the images of the Sepulchre, and it is similar, as an architectonic structure, to the ciborium in our mosaic. 28
We need to ask about the origin and the period of the affirmation of the iconography of the isolated Lamb, the temple of Heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City par excellence, which, as has been seen, is found in manuscript illustrations of the high Middle Ages beginning from the Carolingian Age.
But the Lamb isolated by the Holy City is found originally on the backside of the city-gates sarcophagus of Stilicone in S. Ambrogio; and earlier, in the Constantinian period, it is attested by a lost wall figure from the Mausoleum of Costantina (Santa Costanza) in Rome; 29 this figure is known by a free-hand sketch of Bosio and an anonymous drawing of the 16th century (Berlin, Kunst Bibliotek, Hd. 24151, 31.73).
In the first sketch the nimbate Lamb is placed on the background of a city wall, certainly Jerusalem; in the second one it is on the background of a building, seemingly the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem founded by Constantine, an iconography used also, for example, in the Ms. of Boulogne (Bibl. Municip. Lat. 107. fol. 6 v.).
As is clear from these short notes, which do not pretend to resolve the complex iconographic questions concerning the mosaic of Tayybat al-Imam, it is probable that it implies a program inspired by the Christological texts of the Fathers of the Eastern Church, which, beginning from the Council of Nicea gave much importance to the theme of the glorification of Christ the Lamb, 30 which corresponds to the sacred and regal character of our symbolic figure, the heart of the Paradise composition. Concerning the specificity of the figure of the Lamb in the middle of the Celestial Jerusalem, on the mediaeval miniatures beginning from the Carolingian Age, it is also probable that this is eastern iconography that came to the West with Constantine.
Such an origin is supported by a miniature of the Carolingian Evangelium of St. Medardo at Soissons (Paris, Bibl. Nat., Lat. 8850, fol. 1v.), where the river of paradise, full of fish, stands under the scene of the adoration of the Lamb, 31 but especially in the early Christian period, by the apse composition of S. Pietro and of the Cathedral of Rome and of the figure of the Mausoleum of Constantina.
|* A special thanks to Dr. Bucci who translated this text into English.
1 Rome: Santa Costanza: J. Wilpert (ed. W. N. Schumacher), Die römischen Mosaiken und Malereien der kirchlichen Bauten vom IV-XIII Jahrhundert, Freiburg i. Br. (1916), 1976, p. 51, pl. I; G. Matthiae, Mosaici medievali delle chiese di Roma, Rome 1967, pp.135-142, fig. 27; G. Matthiae (ed. M. Andaloro), Pittura romana nel Medioevo, secoli IV-X, Rome 1987, p. 36, ff., fig. 26. For the bibl. prec.: CH IHM, Die Programme der altchristlichen Apsismalerei vom IV.ten bis zur Mitte des VIIIten Jahrhunderts, Wiesbaden 1960, p.139. Santa Sabina, triumphal arch: J. Ciampini, Vetera Monimenta, I, Romae 1690, pl. XLVIII; IHM, p.152, ff.; Matthiae, Andaloro, p. 40, ff. Ravenna: S. Vitale, apse arch: F. W. Deichmann, Ravenna, Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes, Stuttgart 1976, II,2, pp.163-166, 177, ff.; 1989, II,3, p. 323. Rome: S. Lorenzo f. l. m., triumphal arch. IHM, p. 139 and bibl.; Matthiae Andaloro, p.149, ff., fig. 89; S. Venanzio Chapel (Lateranensis Baptistery): Ciampini, ii, 1699, pl. 30; Matthiae, Mosaici, p. 191, ff.
2 Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore, triumphal arch: Wilpert, Schumacher, p. 75, ff., pl. 71,72; Matthiae, Mosaici, p. 90, ff.; Matthiae Andaloro, p. 61, ff. ; S. Cosma and Damiano, apse: Ciampini, II, Romae 1699, p. 60 ff., pl. 16; Wilpert, Schumacher, p. 328, ff., tavv. 101-104; Matthiae, Ss. Cosma e Damiano e S. Teodoro, Rome 1948, pp. 20-24; IHM, p. 138 and bibl.; Matthiae, Mosaici, pp. 135, ff, 408, pl. 18, figs. 78,85; Matthiae, Andaloro, p. 64, fig. 45; Ravenna, S. Apollinare in Classe, triumphal arch: M. Mazzotti, La Basilica di S. Apollinare in Classe, Città del Vaticano 1954, p. 180; Deichmann, II,2 p. 280; Matthiae Andaloro, p. 277, ff.; C. Rizzardi, I mosaici di S. Apollinare in Classe, Corsi di Cultura Ravenna 32, 1985, pp. 403-430; R. Wisskirchen, Leo III und die Mosaikprogramme von S. Apollinare in Classe, in Jahrb. AC, 34, 1991, p. 139, ff. For the Mediaeval mosaics, see infra, n. 11. About the symbol of the Lambs-Apostles, see Van Der Meer, Maiestas Domini. Theophanies de l'Apocalypse dans l'art Chrétien, Paris 1938, pp. 43-54; interpretated instead as the Elected by M. L. Therel, Le symboles de l'Ecclesia dans la création iconographique de l'art chrétien du III. e Siècle, Rome 1973, pp. 73, 109, ff. See as last N. Schneider, Städte zwei (Jerusalem und Bethlem), Lex. Chr. Ikon., IV, Rome 1972, p. 205, ff.
3 See n. 2.
4 H. Schoenebeck, Der mainländer Sarkophag und seine Nachfolge, Città del Vaticano 1935; H. Brandenburg, La scultura a Milano nel IV e V secolo, Millennio ambrosiano, Milano1997, pp. 99-102. See also the sarcophagus of Colonna Chapel in S. Pietro in Vaticano and the drawings which give the original look of its front side with the theory of the Lamb with the Lamb under the figures of Christ between the Apostles: G. Bovini and H. Brandenburg, Repertorium der christlich-antiken Sarcophage (ed. F. W. Deichmann) I, Wiesbaden 1976, no. 675, pl. 103. For the lamb: F. Nikolasch, Das Lamm als Christussymbol in den Schriften der Väter (Wiener Beitr. z. Theologie, Bd. III), Wien 1963.
5 G. Grimaldi, Descrizione della basilica vaticana (ed. R. Niggl), Città del Vaticano 1972, p. 196, ff.; Ciampini, De sacris aedificiis a Costantino Magno constructis, Romae 1693, pl. 13; Matthiae, Mosaici, p. 327, ff.
6 M. Guarducci, La capsella eburnea di Samagher, Soc. Istriana di Archeologia e Storia Patria, 25, Trieste 1978 (its own numeration), p. 58, ff, figs. 1, 23-25, 27. The monumental iconography with lambs, towns and mystic Lamb is also found in funerary contexts in an inscription in the catacomb of Priscilla (IHM, p. 35, ff., figs. 5-6) and on a gilded glass at the Vatican (R. Garrucci, Vetri ornati di figure in oro trovati nei cimiteri di Roma, Rome 1864, pl. X, 8). See also the iconography of the Ain-Zirara reliquiary: H. Buschhausen, Die spatrömischen Metallscrinia und frühchristlichen Reliquiaire, Vienna 1971, B15, p. 242, ff. and bibl.
7 See n. 1.
8 See n. 2; for the Santa Prassede apse whose iconography depends on St. Cosma and Damiano, see: Ciampini, II, p. 148, pl. 47; Matthiae, Mosaici, pp. 233, ff., figs. 176,183,184; Matthiae, Andaloro, p. 279. Also in the vault of a cubiculum of the catacomb of S. Marcellino and Pietro, the monumental composition dislocated on two registers with Christ on the throne between Peter and Paul and, right under them, the lamb on the mountain between four martyrs, between Christ and the Lamb, the inscription IORDAS; G. Wilpert, Le pitture delle catacombe romane, Rome 1903, p. 455, pl. 252; R. Farioli, Pitture d'epoca tarda nelle catacombe romane, Ravenna 1963, p. 8, fig. 1. The Jordan is represented close to the foot of Christ also in the glass at the Vatican (see n. 8) certainly depending on a monumental iconography which could let us think about the one of the apse of the ancient S. Pietro.
9 For the mediaeval mosaics of the apses of the churches of Rome , over the apse of Santa Prassede (see n. 10) and the apse of the same age of Santa Cecilia (Pasquale I, 817-824), of S. Marco (Gregorio IV, a. 827-844), S. Clemente (1110-1130) and the Santa Maria in Trastevere (Innocenzo II, 1130-1143), see Wilpert, Schumacher, p. 336, pl. 110,116, a, b, p. 337, tavv. 117-118, Matthiae, Mosaici, pp. 233,s., figs.,144, 176, 183, 184, p. 243, fig. 215, p. 279, ff., fig. 228, p. 305, ff, fig. 257.
10 A. Zaqzuq, Nuovi mosaici pavimentali nella regione di Hama, Milion 3 (atti Conv. Arte sacra e profana a Bisanzio), Rome 1995, pp. 238-240, figs. 14-24. In the mosaic there are many lacunae and ancient restorations, for example the two heraldic ducks now upside-down.
11 About the buildings inside geometrical patterns of the middle aisle, we can see different architectonical typologies which let us think of real buildings and, between them, a cross-shaped one. For these problems, see most recently: R. Farioli Campanati, I luoghi santi della Palestina secondo la documentazione musiva e gli oggetti devozionali, in Dalla Terra alle Genti, Catalogo della Mostra (Rimini 1996), Milano 1996, p. 124, ff. and bibligraphy. They should not be generic buildings; see also the recent discovery at El-Bâra. J. P. Foudrin, Syria, 59, 1992, p. 169, ff., fig. 3,17 (to; aJgivou Stefavnou).
12 Alexandra offering a vow with Theodosius and Promotos and Carteria and her familiars has the (space) before the apse mosaic floored. Promotus is an unusual name (see J. R. Martindale, The Prosopography of the Late Roman Empire, II (395-527). Cambridge 1970, p. 926, nos. 1, 2) in the fifth and sixth century.
13 The cypress which is often by the sides of the Cross, looks like a tree of Paradise: see P. Underwood, The fountain of life in manuscripts of Gospels, DOP, 5, 1950, p. 100, ff., figs. 45-48.
14 Under our most holy and Godloving Bishop Domnos and the most pious priest and visitor Epiphanius and the most pious priest Valens the holy shrine was accomplished and mosaiced in the month of Dios of the year 754 of the 10th indiction by .... of (n. pr.) most faithful subdeacon. (For suggestions on this text and translation of this inscription I am indebted with Gianfranco Fiaccadori).
15 L. Feuille, L'église de Junca, Rev. Tunisienne, 41-42, 1940, pp. 21-45, fig. 2.; P. A. Underwood, p. 114, ff., fig. a, p. 115; P. A. Fevrier, Le quatres Fleuves du Paradis, RAChrist, 1956, p. 199, fig. 6. The composition of Junca mosaics is similar to our one. Between the two buildings, which, as in many other cases (see n. 13: Farioli Campanati, l.c.) - are substitutes of the canonic depictions of the cities - and in Junca alluding to Jerusalem and Bethlehem -, the tholos stands up inside the altar (in our case the Lamb) on a podium with arcades, by which the four Paradise Rivers come down; the two deer go to them (the right side one is missing because of damage in the mosaic) between small plants and birds. It is not the Life-Source (Underwood, p. 114, ff.), but rather, as Velmans analyzes (Versions rares du thème de la Fontaine de la Vie, CahArch 19, 1969, p. 39, ff.), a sacred building, as in our case.
16 J. Lassus, Santuaires chrétiens de Syrie, Paris 1944, p. 195; P. Donceel-Voute, in La mosaïque greco-romaine IV, 1994, p. 208, pl. 124; M. Chehab, Mosaïque du Liban (Bull. du musée de Beyrouth, 14) I-II, Paris 1957: villa of Azwai, p. 126, tavv. 83-84, Church of Khaldè, p. 113, pl. 74. A mosaic fragment with two gazelles by the sides of a cantharos on a pedestal, preserved in the Louvre, may come from Middle East: F. Baratte, Mosaiques romanes et paléochrétiennes du Musée du Louvre, Bull. Mon. Paris 1978, no. 58, fig. 150.
17 M. Piccirillo, Umm al-Rasas, Jerusalem 1994, p. 134, ff., figs.; about the nilotic pictures in Syria, see J. Balty, Thèmes Nilotiques dans la mosaique tardive du Proche-Orient, Alessandria e il mondo ellenistico - romano, Studi in onore di A. Adriani, Rome 1984, pp. 827-834.
18 Gregory of Nyssa, De Baptismo; PG, 46, 420-421. For the Patristic sources, see J. Danielou, Terre et Paradis chez les Pères de l'Eglise, Eranos Jahrb., 22, 1955, p. 463, ff. About the apse mosaic decoration of the Rome Cathedral: Wilpert and Schumacher, p. 23, ff; Matthiae, Mosaici, p. 353, ff; Y. Christe, A propos du décor absidal de Saint-Jean du Lateran à Rome, CahArch, 20, 1970, pp. 197-206 (bibl. and discussion). The Sacrament of Baptism which sums up the concepts of death-resurrection seems to find an iconographic correspondent in the Lateran apse, with the Resurrection Cross under the Christ bust, on the mountain with the four rivers flanked by deer, rivers watering another river, perhaps the Jordan, which is identified by the inscription, as in other Roman apses.
19 For the symbolism of the three birds, see G. Schiller, Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst, III, 1971, pp. 120-126, 129-131,177, ff.; H. Maguire, Earth and Ocean. The terrestrial World in the Early Byzantine Art, Pennsylvania Univ. Press, 1987, pp. 61-66; H. Lother, Der Pfau in der Christlichen Kunst, Leipzig 1929, p. 98; E. T. Reimbold, Der Pfau, Munchen 1983; R. van der Broek, The myth of the phoenix according to classical and Early Christian tradition, Leiden 1972. G. Amad, Recherches sur le myth du Phénix dans la mosaïque antique, Montevideo 1988; M. P. Ciccarone, Il simbolismo dell'aquila, Civiltà Classica e Cristiana, 13,3, 1992, pp. 295-333; G. Tedeschi Grisanti, in Rendic. Accad. Naz. Lincei, cl. scienze morali, s. IX,I,2,1991, p. 173, ff.
20 Danielou, p. 440, ff. (Eastside Patristic sources). For the conception of a middle paradise, before the end of the ages, see especially: Y. Christe, Apocalypse et interpretation iconographique, ByzZeit, 67,1974, p. 97, ff., idem, Traditions litteraires et iconographiques dans l'intérprétation des images apocalyptique, L'apocalypse de Jean. Traditions exégétique et iconographique, IIIe-XIIIe siècle, Genève 1979, pp. 109-134.
21 See most recently: G. Canuti, Iconografia e iconologia dei pavimenti absidali delle chiese del Vicino Oriente, Actes du VIIe Coll. de la Mosaique Antique (Tunis, 1994), Tunis 1997 (bibl.).
22 With the Baptism represented in the four rivers (S. Cipriano, Ep. 73: CSEL, III,1,785) and the deer watering from them (Fevrier, p. 189, ff.), the admission to Paradise is sure. Of course they are perhaps connected to the Celestial Kingdom, as the iconography of Christ on the mountain with the four river shows (Fevrier, p. 196) se sont confondus avec le fleuve d'eau de la vie brillant comme du cristal, sortant du trone de Dieu et de l'Agneau (Rev 22:1). In our case the concept of Baptism is underlined by the abundance of fish in the river which I have interpreted as the Jordan, whose relation with the four rivers is underlined by the text of Gregory of Nissa (see n. 20). The river is in the Rome monumental iconography (S. Pietro apse, S. Cosma and Damiano, taken later in Santa Prassede). The name of the Jordan is connected with the Lamb (see supra, n. 10) becoming a figure of the Verbum, as the four rivers, symbol of the Wisdom and the Holy Law (Ecclesistic, 24:23-26). As in the apse mosaic of the old St. Pietro, the river abounding in fish is also in the famous miniature of the Carolingian Evangelistary of St. Medardus at Soisson (Paris, Bibl. Nat. , Lat. 8850, fol. 1v, see J. Porcher, in L'impero carolingio (Il mondo della figura, dir. A. Malraux), ed. it., Milano 1968, fig. 74). For the iconography of the Lamb, see Nicholasch, l.c.
23 I lean to interpretating the Paradisiac figuration of the bema of Tayybat al-Imam, following the Ticonian esegetic tradition of the Apocalypse (see supra n. 22: Christe).
24 F. Von Juraschek, Die Apocalypse von Valenciennes, Linz 1959; H. Omont, Manuscrits illustrés de l'Apocalypse au IXe et Xe siècle, (Bull. Soc. Franc. de réproducions de Manuscripts à peintures), 6, 1922, pp. 64-73; P. K. Klein, Les cycles de l'Apocalypse du haute Moyen-Age (IX-XIIIe siècles), L'Apocalypse de Jean. Traditions exégetiques et iconographiques, Genève 1979, pp. 104, 139-140; A. Fauser, Die Bambergische Apocalypse (facsimile), Wiesbaden 1958; C. Heitz, L'iconographie de l'Apocalypse au Moyen Age, Texte et Image, Actes du Coll. Int. de Chantilly, 1982) Paris 1984, pp. 9-18; G. E. Roche, Une Iconologie Architecturale du Xie siècle, ibid, pp. 19-30; B. Kuehnel, From the Eartly to the Heavenly Jerusalem. Rapresentations of the Holy City in Christian Art of the First Millenium, RQ, Supplh. 42,1987, pp. 128, ff., 135, figs. 78, 79, 92, 96; ead., Likeness and Vision. Loca Sancta Tradition and Apocalyptic Inspiration in Christian Mediaeval Imagery, IsrMuseumJourn, 5, 1986, pp. 57-66; see also La dimora di Dio con gli uomini (ed. M. L. Gatti Perer), Vita e pensiero, Milano 1983, passim.
25 A. Grabar, Les ampoules de Terre Sainte, Paris 1958, Monza: nos. 3, pl. IX; 10, pl. XI;14, pl. XIV; 12, pl. XXI;13, pl. XXIV; Bobbio: nos. 3, 4, 4, 6, tav. 34-38; D. Barag and J. Wilkinson, The Monza Bobbio flasks and the rapresentational art of Palestine, Levant, 6, 1974, pp. 179-187; K. Weitzmann, Loca Sancta and the Arts of Palestine, DOP 28, 1974, p. 35, ff.
26 Weitzmann, Loca Sancta, p. 42, fig. 24; Age of Spirituality. Late Antiquity and Early Christian Art (ed. Weitzmann), Metropolitan Museum, 1978, nos. 524, 545, 519, 520; Farioli Campanati in I bizantini in Italia (ed. G. Pugliese Carratelli), Milano, Credito Italiano 1982, no. 202, fig. 273.
27 J.-P. Sodini, in Bull. AIEMA, 14, 1993, p. 286, figs. 1-5; A. Paribeni, Un mosaico con rappresentazione architettonica nel Museo di Hama, in Atti I Coll. AISCOM, Ravenna 1993, pp. 615-642, fig. 1 and n. 39 for other iconographic comparisons. To the mosaics mentioned by Sodini and Paribeni we could add the mosaic panel at the National Museum of Copenhagen (see Dalla Terra alle Genti, Cat. della Mostra, mentioned, pl. a, p. 163) where we find a figuration similar to Tayybat al-Imam, just different in the aedicula spired roof (fig. 2).
28 For the assimilation of the fons vitae to the Sepulchre aedicula: Underwood, op. cit, pp. 96 ff.
29 For the date of the Berlin drawings (Anonymus Destailleur): C. Heulsen, in RM, VII, 1982, p. 302; traditional interpretation of G. B. De Rossi (Musaici cristiani e saggi di pavimenti delle chiese di Roma, Rome 1873-1899, 17-18, fol. 5r, of E. Muentz, Mosaiques Chétiennes d'Italie, Rev. Arch., 1875, p. 367 and of Wilpert (see Wilpert Schumacher, op. cit., p. 56, fig. 31 and fig. p. 58 - Ugonio manuscript with free-hand sketch of the described figuration) understanding the lamb in front of the Celestial Jerusalem; on the opposite side H. Stern, Les mosaïques de Sante-Costance à Rome, in DOP, 22, 1958, p. 207, ff., figs. 20, 47, 48.
30 Nikolasch, op. cit., pp. 96-123 and literary sources.
31 J. Porcher, op. cit., p. 84, fig. 74; La dimora di Dio con gli uomini (ed. M. L. Gatti Perer), op. cit., no. 157.
|This article was first published in: The Madaba Map Centenary 1897-1997, Jerusalem 1999, 173-177.|