Floor show

On its way to the Louvre, a large and exceptionally well-preserved ancient Roman floor mosaic—discovered in Lod, Israel, in 1996 and excavated in 2009—is making its final stop in the United States at the Penn Museum.“ Unearthing a Masterpiece: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel” opens on Sunday, Feb. 10, and runs through May 19.

The mosaic floor, approximately 50 feet long by 27 feet wide, is believed to have come from the home of a wealthy Roman living in the Eastern Roman Empire circa 300 C.E. Because the mosaic’s imagery has no overt religious content, it cannot be determined whether the owner was a pagan, Christian, or Jew. Lod is located near Tel Aviv, and the site was initially settled in the 5th millennium B.C.E.

The exhibition features the three most complete and impressive panels found in what was probably a large reception room. Footprints of several workers involved in the laying of the floor about 1,700 years ago—some wearing sandals and others working barefoot—were also preserved and will be shown in the exhibition. The mosaic will eventually reside in a new museum being built just for it in Israel.