Does Ancient Mosaic Hold a New Image of Alexander the Great?

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Archaeologists in Huqoq, Israel, are puzzling over depictions of dancers, elephants, and a mysterious figure that may be Alexander the Great. (Nat Geo News)

Learn more about Huqoq and its dazzling mosaics with our terrific case study!

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Note: Current Event Connections is slowing down for the summer. Our column will continue to appear once or twice a week until mid-August. If you have an idea for a Current Event Connection, a recommendation for a good read, or want to share one of your MapMaker Interactive maps, let us know in the comments!

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(No, this is not the new mosaic, but click to enlarge!) Compare this famous (and undisputed) image of Alexander the Great with the newly discovered image from the Huqoq mosaic. The so-called “Alexander Mosaic” (above) was buried with the rest of Pompeii in 79 CE, but was probably completed about 100 BCE, within 250 years of Alexander’s death—and may have been based on a Greek painting completed within 50 years of his death. (In other words, the wealthy Pompeii resident was displaying a valuable antique.) The Huqoq mosaic was completed much later, in the 400s.
How are the mosaic figures similar?
How are they different?
Image courtesy Naples National Archaeological Museum and Wikimedia

Discussion Ideas

Unique mosaics have been discovered at Huqoq, a site that archaeologist Jodi Magness describes as “a Galilean village that was occupied for a long time because there is a spring next to it that attracted settlement. The name ‘Huqoq’ is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible—in the Old Testament—so it was occupied for a very long time, not necessarily continuously.” Take a look at two of the Huqoq mosaics below.

One of the most spectacular discoveries at Huqoq was a depiction of the Biblical figure of Samson. Samson is carrying the gate of Gaza, one of his legendary feats of strength detailed in the book of Judges. Photograph courtesy Jim Haberman

One of the most spectacular discoveries at Huqoq was a depiction of the Biblical figure of Samson. Samson is carrying the gate of Gaza, one of his legendary feats of strength detailed in the book of Judges.
Photograph courtesy Jim Haberman

This lovely lady was one of the first mosaics unearthed at Huqoq. Photograph courtesy Jim Haberman

This lovely lady was one of the first mosaics unearthed at Huqoq.
Photograph courtesy Jim Haberman

 

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: Surprising Mosaics Revealed in Ancient Synagogue in Israel

Nat Geo: Huqoq Excavation Project (Case Study: Archaeology and Technology)

Huqoq Excavation Project

Livius: Alexander Visits Jerusalem

2 responses to “Does Ancient Mosaic Hold a New Image of Alexander the Great?

  1. .
    An interesting mosaic.

    This does not depict Alexander the Great. Instead, this is a scene from the Talmud, where bar Kamza offers a sacrificial calf on behalf of the Romans, to rabbi Zechariah Abkulas (see Gittin 55-57). This was in about AD 68. But bar Kamza was being devious here, because he had cut the calf’s lip (you can see the mark), knowing that Zechariah would have to reject the blemished offering, and so offend the Romans, and thereby precipitate the Jewish Revolt. This was one way in which the Jewish Revolt was deliberately forged.

    So was bar Kamza? Well, Kamza is a witty hypocorism, meaning ‘locust’. And there was a royal family in Syria who were disparaged as being locusts, one of whom was Agabus (meaning locust) who appears in Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:27). This Syrian Agabus prophesied the great Judaean famine of AD 47, and this confirms that the royal family of ‘locusts’ was the Syrian monarchy of King Abgarus V of Edessa, who was married to Queen Helena. (Note – Agabus and Agbarus, the Roman and Syriac pronunciations respectively.) And it was Queen Helena of Syria, the wife of Abgarus, who saved Judaea from the AD 47 famine. And all the Edessan royalty wore the diadema headband, the symbol of of both Greek and Greeco-Persian royalty, the same as in this mosaic.

    But we are looking for the son of King Abgarus here (bar Kamza, not Kamza), and he was called King Izas Manu VI of Edessa. And we know that bar Kamza was King Izas Manu, because both are said to have started the Jewish Revolt (Gittin 55-57, and Josephus Flavius). But who was King Izas Manu? believe it or not he was the biblcial King Jesus Em Manu-el. (They share many, many similarities.)

    This is why the character in this mosaic is dressed in military uniform and is wearing a purple cloak – which was the sole prerogative of the Roman Emperor. So we know this character on the mosaic was claiming the throne of Rome. However, the biblical Jesus (King Izas Manu) was also pointedly said to have been dressed in a purple cloak (Mark 15:7). Why? Because the Jewish Revolt was primarily a revolt against Rome, rather than Judaea, and King Izas Manu (the biblical Jesus) wanted to become the next emperor of Rome.

    So this mosaic depicts bar Kamza giving a sacrificial calf to the priests of Jerusalem. And bar Kamza is King Izas Manu of Edessa. And King Izas Manu is the biblical King Jesus Manu-el, who has at last been discovered in the historical record. Please see: ‘Jesus, King of Edessa’.

    Ralph

    Like

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