Mosaic pavement with Egyptianizing scene

Period: Mid Imperial, Late Hadrianic or Early Antonine

Date: ca. A.D. 130–150

Culture: Roman

Medium: Stone and glass

Dimensions: 46 1/2 × 46 1/4 in. (118.1 × 117.5 cm)

Classification: Miscellaneous-Mosaic

Credit Line: Gift of Susan Dwight Bliss, 1945

Accession Number: 45.16.2


The mosaic, made of stone and glass tesserae, was found near Prima Porta, just north of Rome, in 1892. It was one of several mosaics uncovered in a villa complex. The two figures in the central panel wear Egyptian dress; the man standing on the left has been identified as a priest, making an offering to the seated figure, regarded as the goddess Isis. However, the interpretation of the scene remains problematic. Egypt held a special fascination for the Romans as a land of great wealth and antiquity, and its exotic character is often found reflected in Roman architecture, statuary, frescoes, and other decorative arts. The scene may therefore be imaginary, intended merely to convey an Egyptian atmosphere. The surrounding geometric and floral designs, on the other hand, are typically Roman.