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by Archaeology Newsroom

A mosaic floor with a picture of Adam at the Hama museum in Syria

The image of Adam dressed and enthroned is known to us exclusively from three Syrian mosaics. The first mosaic, which is also the best preserved, comes from the central aisle of an early Christian basilica in Huarte. The mosaic belonging to the museum of Hama and the third which is to be found at the museum of Copenhagen came from illegal excavations. In the mosaic of the Hama museum, a young man is shown in a frontal view, enthroned under an arch that stands on two small pillars. He is seated on a throne and his hair is short and curly. He wears a mantle with a heavy cloak over it. Two inscriptions, one Greek and one Syrian, identify him as Adam. In the Huarte mosaic, the enthroned Adam is depicted holding an open book. Two cypresses surround him with snakes entwined while various animals approach him. In the Copenhagen mosaic there is evidence that in this mosaic Adam was also surrounded by animals. It is a depiction of Adam before the Fall in which he names the animals. Granted that in Genesis Adam appears naked before the Fall, the way he is shown in the mosaics takes on a symbolic character. The three mosaics have differences in style which point to their having been made in different studios. However this does not necessarily mean that they were created at different times. High quality and a free style are characteristics of the Huama mosaic (487/488AD), the Hama mosaic, on the other hand is in a more formalized style and probably belongs to the first decades of the 6th century AD.