About This Artwork

Roman; Daphne, Turkey, the House of the Man of Letters, room 2

Mosaic Floor Panel Depicting Marine Life, AD 200/30

Stone and mortar
39.4 x 85.7 x 6.4 cm (15 1/2 x 33 3/4 x 2 1/2 in.)

Gift of Mr. Henry J. Patten, 1937.48

Fish was a luxury food among the Romans. Mosaics depicting marine life were especially popular in and around Antioch (near modern Antakya, Turkey), an ancient city located on the Orontes River that was known for the beauty of its waters. This mosaic, which was discovered in a house in Daphne (modern Harbiye), a prosperous garden town near Antioch, depicts several species of fish and shellfish. The representation of these sea creatures was likely intended to convey a message about the owner’s wealth as well as the variety of food available in the home.

This work appears in the online catalogue Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring art historical essays and conservation reports on artworks from the ancient Roman world in the Art Institute’s collection. Entries include new high-resolution photography, stunning 360-degree views of the works, and in-depth technical imaging and analysis. The volume is free to the public.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, Of Gods and Glamour: The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, Gallery 152, November 11, 2012 - present.

Publication History

Sandra E. Knudsen, with contributions by Rachel C. Sabino, “Cat. 154 Mosaic Floor Panel Depicting Marine Life: Curatorial Entry,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).

Karen B. Alexander, "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 31.

Interpretive Resources

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