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Armenian Mosaic, Jerusalem

View all images in our Armenian Mosaic Photo Gallery.

Near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem is a beautiful Armenian mosaic dating from the 5th or 6th century AD. Also known as "the bird mosaic," it was discovered in 1894 along with a small natural cave.

What to See

Incorporating tesserae of many different colors, the Armenian Mosaic depicts a vinewith many branches and grape clusters, which springs from a vase. Populating the vine's branches are peacocks, ducks, storks, pigeons, an eagle, a partridge, and a parrot in a cage. The elaborate scene is framed by a guilloche border.

Under the southwest corner, a small natural cave contained human bones and lamps dating from the 5th or 6th centuries. The room was clearly used as a mortuary chapel. An inscription at the top of the mosaic reads: "For the memory and salvation of all those Armenians whose name the Lord knows."

Not only the inscription, but the symbolism of the mosaic itself indicates the room was used to ponder death and remember the dead. In early Christian art, birds were common symbols of believers' souls. The bird in the cage represents the soul imprisoned within the body. Other images remind the viewer of the hope of salvation: vine scrolls symbolize the blood of Christ and a basket of fruit represents the flesh of Christ.

Getting There

The Armenian Bird Mosaic is about 200m north of the Damascus Gate. Go south along Hanevim (Prophet St.) to a house at the corner of a short street on the right.

Quick Facts on Armenian Mosaic

Site Information
Names:Armenian Mosaic; Armenian Mosaic, Jerusalem
City:Jerusalem
Country:Israel & Palestine
Categories:Churches
Faiths:Christianity; Armenian Orthodox
Feat:Mosaics
Styles:Byzantine
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Jerusalem,
Coordinates:0.000000° S, 0.000000° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Armenian Mosaic

Below is a location map and aerial view of Armenian Mosaic. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. Kay Prag, Blue Guide to Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Black and Norton, 2002), 249-50.
  2. Design in Center and Periphery: Three Generations of Armenian Ceramic Artists in Jerusalem - Interpreting Ceramics

More Information

Article Info

Title:Armenian Mosaic, Jerusalem
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:05/02/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-armenian-mosaic
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-armenian-mosaic">Armenian Mosaic, Jerusalem</a>