The BMA exhibits a a distinquished collection of Antioch mosaics, the result of its participation in excavations of this ancient city, known today as Antakya in southeastern Turkey, near the border of Syria.
With the support of BMA Trustee Robert Garrett, The Baltimore Museum of Art joined the Musées Nationaux de France, Worcester Art Museum, and Princeton University during the excavations of 1932 to 1939, discovering 300 magnificent mosaic pavements in and around the lost city. The BMA received some of the finest mosaics from the excavation, totaling 34 pavements, 28 of which are on display in the Museum’s sunlit atrium court.
Discovered in the affluent suburb of Daphne and the nearby port city of Seleucia Pieria, the mosaics date from the days of the emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D. to the Christian empire of Justinian in the 6th century, bridging the Classical world and the early Middle Ages. The mosaics illustrate how the classical art of Greece and Rome evolved into the art of the early Christian era and tell the story of how people lived in this ancient city prior to its destruction by catastrophic earthquakes in 526 and 528 A.D. The mosaics are notable for their grand scale and elaborately patterned borders, and the brilliance of their decorative and naturalistic effects.