views updated


MARIANOS (sixth century), artist who – together with his son Ḥanina – designed the pictorial mosaic floor of the Bet Alfa (Ḥefẓi-Bah) synagogue near Beth-Shean. Their names also appear in an ornamental mosaic floor adjoining a synagogue at Beth-Shean. They are known only through these two mosaics. The inscription in Greek at Bet Alfa reads: "May the craftsmen who carried out this work, Marianos and his son Ḥanina, be held in remembrance." Below this inscription, a partially destroyed Aramaic legend dates the mosaic to the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justin (i), viz., 518–527 c.e. It is clear that, as local Galilean artists, they worked in the standard Greco-Oriental manner of the time, combining Eastern frontality, patterning, and lack of modeling and perspective, with Western costumes, composition, and mosaic technique. The similarity of their work to mosaics in other sixth-century synagogues of the Palestinian littoral indicates that they followed standard patterns. The style of their work appears to reflect rug designs. In the Bet Alfa mosaic the motifs of the border designs and of two of the three panels, that of the zodiac and of the holy symbols, are paralleled elsewhere (e.g., the sixth-century synagogue of Tiberias). The third panel located just inside the entrance to the prayer room depicts the sacrifice of Isaac, combining an artistic and symbolic complexity that belies the direct, seemingly naive manner in which the mosaic is worked. (See *Bet Alfa.)


B. Goldman, Sacred Portal (1966); E.L. Sukenik, Ancient Synagogue of Beth Alpha (1932); N. Tsori, in: Israel Exploration Journal, 13 (1963), 148–9.

[Bernard Goldman]

About this article


Updated About content Print Article