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The Oceanus mosaic in Bad Kreuznach

This mosaic was found in Bad Kreuznach (Germany) in 1966. It can today be seen in the "Römerhalle". It has a rectangular part (8.16 x 7.82 m.), and an apsidal part. In the centre a hexagonal basin (or rather fountain) was found, with sides of 0.96 m. It was decorated with marble. The mosaic was damaged when, at an unknown point in time, the lead pipe taking water to the fountain was removed. The mosaic was in antiquity not submerged. It probably covered the floor of a dining room. There was a wooden reclining couch in the apsidal part. The room formed part of a very large villa. For the size, plan and luxurious nature of the villa no parallels have been found in Germania Superior. The name of the owner is not known, but he must have been a leading person, active in the nearby provincial capital Mogontiacum (Mainz).

In the apse is a depiction of the sea-god Oceanus. On his head are the claws of lobsters. On either side of his head is a hippocampus. The sea is depicted with black and white tesserae. In the sea are fish and snails. There are no freshwater animals. Four ships were depicted, two of which - near Oceanus - are preserved well. To the right of Oceanus is a ship with amphorae and two men, to the left a ship with a helmsman and four oarsmen. Buildings are depicted above, and to the left and right of the basin. To the left a commercial transaction may be going on, to the right is a fisherman.

Two inscriptions have been preserved. To the right of the buildings above the basin is an inscription with small letters: VICTORINVS TESS(ELLARIVS) FEC(IT) ("Victorinus, mosaicist, made this"). In a border in the upper left part is the beginning of an inscription: MAXIMO ET V[RBANO CO(N)S(VLIBVS) ---], that is the consular date 234 AD.

[jthb - 10-Dec-2003]