Nile Mosaic, Palestrina, Italy

100 BCE ca.
The Nile mosaic once decorated the Apsidal Hall, Roman Forum, Palestrina, at the base of the Palestrina sanctuary. It now resides in the Museo Nazionale Archeologico Prenestino. It is one of the earliest large mosaics which have been preserved from the classical world. It presents a unique, comprehensive picture of Egypt and Nubia. The interpretation of the mosaic is disputed, suggestions ranging from an exotic decoration to a topographical picture or a religious allegory. The mosaic depicts rituals connected with Isis and Osiris and the yearly Nile flood. The presence of these Egyptian religious scenes at Praeneste, can be explained by the assimilation of Isis and Fortuna, the tutelary goddess of Praeneste, and by the interpretation of the mosaic as a symbol of divine providence. The Archivision Collection of Ancient Sites was funded by the Jack Martin Balcer Library Endowment. Keywords: Italy, Roma, Palestrina, Mediterranean, Lazio, Barberini Mosaic. Photographed by Scott Gilchrist, Archivision.