Joint Sepphoris Project

When cut to a small size, mosaic tesserae offered the potential for subtle shading in portraits, though they were not used for that purpose until after the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. Delicate gradations of colored tesserae bring to life the mosaic woman on the floor of a building at Sepphoris, in central Galilee. Created sometime before the destruction of the city by an earthquake in 363 C.E., the mosaic’s lifelike quality suggests that it may have been modeled after a real person.