Today, we went to the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, N.Y., and among other things, saw the exhibit Tree of Paradise: Jewish Mosaics from the Roman Empire (obsolete link removed 7/13), from a sanctuary floor of the synagogue in Hammam Lif, Tunisia. This was of particular interest to me because I had seen a Tunesian mosaic exhibit in Cologne, Germany, a few years back. There was a similarity in color selections.
Unfortunately, today was the last day, so the preceding link may not be up for long. But here is an excellent write-up and background by Kris Hirst at Archaeology at About.com. She includes illustrations, Scenes from Paradise, so I need not repeat a descripition. Twenty-one pieces of the mosaics have been in possession of the Brooklyn Museum since 1905.
I found the exhibit a little disjointed, with a lot of Egyptian Jewish material joined in, but the history of the mosaics, their discovery by French army captain Ernest de Prudhomme in 1883, the drawings of them by one of his soldiers which prove extremely valuable today, is fascinating and was well presented. Emphasis was put on the fact that the patron/donor of the mosaic was a woman, the first known of this kind. Analogies of religious symbolism between Judaism and Christianity were noted and a good general historic background given.
This discovery of the mosaics is termed "the birth of synagogue archaeology."
Some photos may be forthcoming. Here (8/14)
I spent a good deal of the remainder of the day in the renowned Egyptian collection, which is freshly introduced with Egypt Reborn. At the bottom of that page are links to the rest of the collection. And there was also Egypt Through Other Eyes. At the end of it, I was mentally exhausted...not being helped by us getting stuck in Sunday afternoon traffic... Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Museum is not as easily accessible to us as the Met, and other museums, in Manhattan.