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Vandal period, late 5th - early 6th century AD From Bordj-Djedid near Carthage, Tunisia This fragment of a large mosaic pavement shows a triumphant horseman wearing a cloak riding in front of a villa and is part of a larger mosaic decorated with hunting scenes. The man is shown bearded, with long hair and wearing a short tunic, breeches and leggings in Germanic style, while other mosaics of the period from North Africa bear Germanic names. This has led to the suggestion that he represents a Vandal noble or landowner. But the fashion was adopted by the late Roman military, too, while the clothing is practical for country riding, so, without an inscription, his identity remains somewhat uncertain. It is interesting to note that, contrary to the stock image of Vandal destruction, the mosaic shows a Roman type of building and style of interior decoration still existing during the Vandal occupation of the region, as well as the continuation of Roman aristocratic leisure pursuits. The cross on the horse’s thigh appears to represent a brand of Roman type. The tesserae are of stone, ceramic and, occasionally, glass. The other sections of the pavement are decorated with hunting scenes. Buckton, D. (ed.), 1994, Byzantium: Treasures of Byzantine Art and Culture from British Collections, British Museum Press, London, no. 55a.

Details

  • Title: 'Vandal' horseman mosaic
  • Date Created: 450/550
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 1.69m; Length: 2.45m
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: mosaic
  • Subject: hunting/shooting; mammal; equestrian; flower; domestic building; tree/bush
  • Registration number: 1967,0405.18
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Carthage
  • Period/culture: Late Roman; Vandal
  • Material: stone
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Excavated by Davis, Nathan

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