© 1982 Erich Lessing/Culture and Fine Arts Archives

The Ark of the Law. Two graceful columns support a triangular pediment or gabled roof. Ionic capitals crown the columns, and a shell fans out to fill the pediment. Three steps lead up to two closed doors whose yellow panels with darker centers suggest that they were made of acacia wood. A white curtain hanging from rings on a rod partially covers the Ark; it is rolled inward from the sides and is either tied in a knot or bound with a separate strip of material. The style of the mosaic Ark’s columns and gable probably mimic the architecture of the actual Hammath Tiberias Torah Ark in the third- or early-fourth-century synagogue.