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Hammam-lif à Brooklyn

Cet article envoyé par Jihed Chehimi, il nous parle d'une exposition sur "l'art israelite" a Brooklyn au Etats Unis. Nous le présentons en sa version anglaise, afin de donner une idée sur l'histoire de notre ville..
Nous remercions Jihed qui nous dit : “Au début j'ai été surpris de voir ceci, mais l'aricle de si Rached Dali a vraiment enflammé ma curiosite. Je vais aller à Brooklyn voir le curateur de l'exposition et musée, et prendre des photos des mosaiques.
Je pense que la mosaique fait partie de notre patrimoine culturel… J'ai bien l'intention de prendre cela au serieux. J'irai la semaine prochaine avec un autre ami Hammam-Lifois d'ailleurs, Haffa un ami d'enfance. Très heureux de lire sur le site. Une faveur Mohamed : faire part à si Rached Dali, il sera heureux de savoir que son interview a été lu aux Etats Unis”.

Jihed Chehimi

Mosaic of fish's head Unknown Roman Artist
Place found : Tunis Tunisia,
3rd century-5th century A.D.
Mosaic
28 1/16 x 31 15/16in. (71.2 x 81.2cm)
Museum Collection Fund
Brooklyn Museum
Roman Mosaic of Duck Facing Left in Vines, Hammam-Lif Synagogue, Tunisia
Brooklyn Museum
Roman Mosaic of Date Palm Tree, Right end of lower center, pavement of main sanctuary, Synagogue of Hammam Lif, Tunisia. At Brooklyn Museum.
Brooklyn Museum

III. The Hammam-Lif Synagogue in Tunisia

The ruins of the Hammam Lif synagogue have completely disappeared since 1883. In fact a 1909 attempt to relocate them was unsuccessful. Yet the floor plan is known from the drawing Corporal Peco made while working for Captain Prudhomme. The plan shows a sixteen-room complex measuring about 22 by 20 meters (72.1 x 65.6 feet). The plan somewhat resembles a typical Roman house, also the original plan for many Early Christian churches.
If the plan is regarded as a house plan, the main entrance is on the south side of the building. There were also subsidiary entrances on the east and west sides of the building. Visitors or worshippers entered through a door supported by two columns and passed into a typical Roman atrium. The atrium in a Roman house was an interior court. Such atriums are also an element of Early Christian Churches. The Roman atrium was an unroofed or partially roofed area with rooms opening from it.
The atrium, used as an entrance hall in a house, had both an impluvium, the Latin term for the sunk part of the floor in the atrium which was built to receive the rain water passing through the compluvium or opening in the roof. The impluvium was generally lined with marble or mosaic and sunk about a foot below the floor of the atrium. This pool was paved with mosaic, probably including the mosaic of a fish and perhaps the mosaic of a rooster. Water installations of various sorts are often found in ancient synagogue entrances, perhaps for worshippers to purify themselves.
If the plan is regarded as a house plan, the main entrance is on the south side of the building. There were also subsidiary entrances on the east and west sides of the building. Visitors or worshippers entered through a door supported by two columns and passed into a typical Roman atrium. The atrium in a Roman house was an interior court. Such atriums are also an element of Early Christian Churches. The Roman atrium was an unroofed or partially roofed area with rooms opening from it.
The atrium, used as an entrance hall in a house, had both an impluvium, the Latin term for the sunk part of the floor in the atrium which was built to receive the rain water passing through the compluvium or opening in the roof. The impluvium was generally lined with marble or mosaic and sunk about a foot below the floor of the atrium. This pool was paved with mosaic, probably including the mosaic of a fish and perhaps the mosaic of a rooster. Water installations of various sorts are often found in ancient synagogue entrances, perhaps for worshippers to purify themselves.
The mosaics of a fish and of a rooster are created in a style that is consistent with the main sanctuary mosaic. There is a minimal amount of modeling but a strong outline in black tesserae. The water of the pool is represented by a double zigzag line of tesserae in black and gray. Both the fish and the rooster were used elsewhere in Jewish contexts during Late Antiquity as symbols of the coming messianic age. Both the fish and the rooster were represented in Jewish catacombs in Rome. The fish was a symbol of fertility and rebirth in both Roman and Jewish symbolism. The rooster is found much more rarely in Jewish contexts.
A visitor or worshipper would pass from the atrium into a rectangular room of unknown purpose called a portico, covered in lozenge-shaped mosaic. It contained a mosaic inscription naming the patrons who paid for paving this area. The patrons included the temple official Asterius.
The portico communicates with the main sanctuary, paved with mosaic and containing an apse, a semi-circular space usually occupied by an aedicule. An aedicule was usually framed by two columns that supported an entablature and a pediment, and was placed against the west wall. Rather than containing a statue as was true in many pagan aediculae, here it was the site of the “Seat of Moses” occupied by the synagogue head or perhaps the place where the scroll of the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible, was read.
Though no evidence is preserved for Hammam Lif, often the area for reading the Torah was raised above the main floor. If there were steps to a platform in the aedicule, their presence might explain why part of the floor directly in front of it was not paved with mosaic.
Four doors in the east wall of the main sanctuary open into three small square rooms and one long rectangular room or hallway. One of these rooms, marked “D” on the plan, contained two inscriptions describing this spot as the place where the Torah scrolls were stored. The other rooms served unknown purposes but could have included rooms for cooking and eating as well as storage space and sleeping rooms used by Jews visiting from other towns.

by Edward Bleiberg, Ph.D.


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