Djemila Baptistery Floor Mosaic, Detail
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
The late 4th / early 5th C. Christian baptistery at Djemila (southeastern Algeria) is a round structure designed with an outer ambulatory rimming its circumference and a circular inner ambulatory that envelops the central square, canopied font. Early 20th C. excavations uncovered the baptistery's original decorations and revealed that the entire floor is paved with mosaics. The inner ambulatory mosaics (shown in this image) depict all types of sea creatures: fish of various sorts, octopus and crab-like creatures. This diverse population of sea life represents followers of Christ. The fish is a very ancient symbol associated with Christianity. In Greek the word for fish is ichthys, which is an acronym for Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior. The focal point of this aquatic scene is a large chalice (not visible here). ca. June 1983
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