This strange mosaic is known as the Lod mosaic. It was named such since it was discovered in the city of Lod in Israel. Serious creative thought was put into the naming process.
Although it looks small in this picture, the Lod mosaic is some 50 by 30 feet. It is actually the floor to a Roman house. It is also quite a mystery to scholars who have yet to determine whether this mosaic is Christian, Jewish, or Pagan. After looking at various close ups of the images, I can see why. The mosaic has an odd mixture of animal pictures. There are angry, vicious looking beasts. But then there are animals with goofy smiles. There are a number of hunting images, with beasts killing other beasts. There are also a number of fish depictions. Fish eating fish. Fish around a sailing vessel. Fish in a basket. I was beginning to think this was the floor of a Roman fisherman and hunter, the mosaic being his version of a trophy case. Then I found the answer.
If you look very closely at the image between the two lions, just above the elephant’s head, you will see the key to solving the mosaic mystery.
Yes. That’s right. It’s Scooby Doo.
Participating in softball playoffs this week (in which our team was eventually crushed) has got me thinking about various venues of competition. The Coliseum is probably one of the most famous arenas of battle. I was fortunate enough to see it first hand. It’s big. It’s impressive. It has graffiti carved into its walls and columns. Still, you can stand inside of it and imagine gladiators battling wild animals (or you could just watch the movie).
And if you think those ancient Romans were bloodthirsty barbarians, you can probably also summon modern pictures of bloody boxing fights, vicious ice hockey checking and slamming, and other such ‘civilized’ activities of the modern age. We are competitive creatures, although I think our ancestors would have a few choice words to say to us if they observed our modern practice of removing people from the battle if they are actively bleeding. They might also have something to say about our practice of awarding everyone a trophy. Maybe performance motivation based on ‘you lose, you die’ is a bit extreme for our civilized world, but throw in some popcorn and hot dogs for the audience and I think they would be on their feet chanting ‘Death! Death! Death!’
Humans are fascinating beings, capable of amazing good and frightening violence.