Biblical Archaeology Review 22:2, March/April 1996

Magic Carpets

By Larry G. Herr

The Mosaics of Jordan

Michele Piccirillo (Amman, Jordan: American Center of Oriental Research, 1993) 383 pp., $175

President Clinton has a copy specially bound in silk, given to him in the fall of 1993 by Jordan’s King Hussein at the signing of the “Washington Declaration” of peaceful intentions between Jordan and Israel. At the formal signing of the Jordan-Israel peace treaty in the Araba (the border area north of Eilat and Aqaba), in October 1994, Jordanian dignitaries presented copies to their Israeli counterparts.

What is this royal gift symbolizing peace? It is The Mosaics of Jordan, a splendid new book on the country’s exquisite ancient floor decorations.

The 800 magnificent color photographs (including several two-page spreads) reproduced in these 383 oversized pages (9.5 by 13 inches) include stunning overall scenes, as well as details showing the exquisite artistry of the ancient mosaicists. A helpful introduction summarizes the history of archaeology in the major mosaic centers and the basic issues of mosaic study. Photographs of the mosaics are accompanied by plans of buildings and pictures of sites and other finds that situate them in architectural and functional contexts. The descriptions are concise and informative, but the glory of the book is the photographs.

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