Zev Radovan

Iconoclasts were here. Part of a fifth-century C.E. mosaic floor from the synagogue at Meroth, in northern Galilee, this portrait of a young Roman soldier shows the tell-tale signs of deliberate defacement. The tiles that represented the eyes of the youth were carefully excised, but other features in the portrait—not only the soldier’s head and body, but also his shield, his helmet and the sword above his head—were left undisturbed. Iconoclasts often removed only as much of an image as was needed to render it “powerless” or inoffensive.