"Believing is Seeing: Mosaics in Christian, Jewish and Muslim Religious Buildings in Jordan and Israel" – Archaeologist Karen Britt to Present at UNC Asheville on Feb. 21

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Elephant mosaic from the synagogue in Huqoq

Karen Britt will present an illustrated lecture on ancient floor mosaics in Jordan and Israel from early Jewish, Christian, and Muslim contexts in a free public talk at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 21 in UNC Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall.

Britt is a research scholar and lecturer in art history at Western Carolina University who has worked on recently discovered mosaics from a synagogue in Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village. These figural mosaics, first discovered in 2012, depict Old Testament stories as well as, remarkably, non-biblical stories and figures including, perhaps, Alexander the Great.   

The Huqoq excavation project mosaics are described by Britt and co-author Ra’anan Boustan in The Elephant Mosaic Panel in the Synagogue at Huqoq: Official Publication and Initial Interpretations, just published in December. Britt also is one of the sources in National Geographic’s 2016 article on the mosaics.

Her lecture will consider the mosaics within the larger context of mosaic art of early Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities in this region between the 5th and 8th centuries. The picture of the past that emerges from placing this artistic tradition, shared by all the three faiths, in a broader context, challenges the stereotypes frequently associated with these groups.

This lecture is part of the Archaeological Institute of America’s 122nd Lecture Program that will bring leading scholars to audiences across the U.S. during the 2017-18 academic year. For more information, contact Laurel Taylor, UNC Asheville senior lecturer in classics and art history, ltaylor@unca.edu or 828.251.6290.