Floor Mosaic

Petra Church, Jordan

The Petra Church is a basilican structure, having a wide central apse and narrower apses on either aisle. Mosaics on the aisles are excellently preserved, and the building has been furnished with a modern roof to protect them.

The scheme on the left (north) aisle consists of three rows of "inhabited scrolls" (Markoe, p. 243), that is, circular medallions framed by vine scrolls. The central row contains various baskets, vases, and other objects. Paired animals, male and female of each species, flank the central medallions. The example seen here includes male and female boars (photo center), birds (photo right), and two pairs of birds (photo left).

Even though this is a church, the floor mosaics appear secular rather than religious. The Blue Guide suggests, reasonably enough, that worshipers would not want to trample upon holy images. Originally, there were also mosaics on the apsidal domes and clerestory walls; perhaps these would have had more religious content. Their fragments are currently (2005) being studied.