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Mosaic Fragment with Man Leading a Giraffe

A work made of stone in mortar.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of stone in mortar.


5th century


Byzantine; Syria or Lebanon

About this artwork

This mosaic fragment was once part of a larger composition that paved the floor of a wealthy family villa in the Eastern Mediterranean. Composed of thousands of small tesserae, or stone cubes, it shows a giraffe and a human handler standing against a decorative backdrop of scallop-shaped semicircles. No doubt originally set amid a profusion of other wild and exotic animals, giraffes such as this one captivated the imagination of those who saw them in parades and public games. Writing around the turn of the third century, the historian Cassius Dio (about A.D. 150–235), among others, called this marvelous creature a Camelopardus because, in his opinion, the giraffe combined the physical traits of both the camel and the leopard.


On View, Gallery 153


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium




Mosaic Fragment with Man Leading a Giraffe


Tyre (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

401 CE–500 CE


Stone in mortar


170.8 × 167 × 6.4 cm (67 1/4 × 65 3/4 × 2 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Robert B. Mayer

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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