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.

Date:

5th century

Artist:

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.

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Ancient and Byzantine Art

Artist

Byzantine

Title

Mosaic Fragment with Man Leading a Giraffe

Origin

Tyre

Date

401 AD–500 AD

Medium

Stone in mortar

Dimensions

170.8 × 167 × 6.35 cm (67 1/4 × 65 3/4 × 2 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Robert B. Mayer

Reference Number

1993.345

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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