Gabi Laron

DEVOTION DEFACED. In the eighth century C.E., iconoclasts destroyed human and animal images in churches and synagogues throughout the Byzantine empire. In spite of the zeal of iconoclasts who defaced mosaics in a church at Horvat Beit Loya in Israel, author Zaraza Friedman is able to recover the mosaics’ symbolism. This mosaic medallion from the Loya Church’s north aisle portrays a fisherman fishing and a helmsman steering with oars on a boat. The figures’ faces were vandalized by iconoclasts and subsequently repaired with colored tesserae by a church member, though there was no attempt to recreate the original image. The mosaics at the Loya Church depict fish and fishermen imagery, important themes in early Christian iconography.