Mosaics from the Bardo

In the early 20th century, in an effort to prevent mosaics from deteriorating, archaeologists cut up mosaics and moved them into museums. While some went to local museums, the majority were placed on display in the Bardo National Museum. Now instead the Tunisians leave them in the ground and set up barriers to prevent people from walking on them or the sun fading the colors.

Centaurs driving a pair of lions Even though lions are no longer found in North Africa they once were found there until they were hunted to extinction in some areas or driven away from humans.

Bacchus, with the spear and only part of his head, punishes the pirates of the Tyrrhenian Sea by turning them into dolphins.

Plaster Carving Though this is Islamic, the carving reminded me of a mosaic with its central image surrounded by an elaborate border and the great attention to detail.

Chariot Race Inside a circus during a hunting race. In Tunisia very few of the circuses remain since they were not very permanent structures like the Circus Maximus in Rome. They were just tracks set up with seating around them. Few cities actually had permanent circuses but these were taken down after the fall of the empire because they had no use for the local populations any more.

Elephant and a Horse Many of the mosaics found in Tunisia depicted animals some common some rarer like the elephant but all show just how much they appreciated nature. It is not uncommon for them to be on the edges of mosaics. Sometimes they relate back to the main picture but other times, like the in chariot race above they are used as filler (inside the weave on the border).

This foot was once part of a large statue. I don't recall exactly but I would say that the foot was at least 3 foot long. Unlike many Greek statues or their Roman copies in the Louvre, this statue does not have its little toe curled under the fourth toe nor any visibility of the toe bones in the main part of the foot.

Woman's Head Many times in the borders or near the outside edges of a mosaic portraits or figures related to the central picture would be placed.

Theseus killing the Minotaur

Neptune and the Four Seasons This was probably the best preserved mosaic at the Bardo. In the center Neptune raises from the Ocean. At the corners are representations of the Four Seasons (Winter is in the lower left and they go around anti-clockwise.)

Intricate designs were used as space filler. Usually they were detailed weaves made of vines and branches of leaves.


Virgil with the Muses Clio (Epic Poetry) and Melpomene (Tragedy). According to The Bardo: Palace and Museum he holds a scroll of the Aeneid, upon which you can make out (Don't strain your eyes. You probably can not see it in this picutre, I already tried.) "Musa mihi causas memora quo numine laeso quidve..." or "Muse, recall to me the reasons, by which god offended or what..." (Book I, L.8).


Head of a Sea God, most likely part of an extremely large mosaic not recovered when the head was.

A Detail of the eyes shows just complex mosaics can be.

Aegis, Athena's Shield, had the head of Medusa in the center.

A pair of gladiators slaying a leopard.

A skeleton in the catacombs of Sousse. It is one of a few that can actually be seen by the public, the rest have been bricked over to prevent people from damaging them.

A mosaic that used to be the covering of a crypt in the catacombs.

Bulla Regia and Dougga -- The Bardo and Sousse -- Carthage and El Jem