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Thoughts on the Meaning of a “Decorative” Early Christian Mosaic

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Chapter Summary

The fragmentary nature of the Montreal Mosaics and the total absence of any solid information as to their exact origin pose a difficult hermeneutical problem. In this chapter, the author attempts to do with four of the Montreal Mosaics. The author considers as the more probable location of two decorative panels a continuous space in the aisle of a basilica, or a similar lateral space. He believes that the arguments made in the chapter are consistent with mind-frame of Late Antiquity and early Christianity, as well as with issues of standard repertory practiced by the workshops at the time. The author argues that when there is a twist in the presentation of simple standard motifs, we should pursue the investigation of possible meaning in such divergence. In the Montreal pieces, he believes that it gives us an additional tool to posit the mosaics into the space of the church building.

Keywords: basilica; decorative panels; early Christianity; Montreal Mosaics; standard motifs



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