Biblical Archaeology Review 45:2, March/April 2019


Istanbul, Turkey

This mosaic of Oceanus adorned the Great Palace of Constantinople (the Sacred Palace) that was the main residence of the Byzantine emperors from 330 to 1081 C.E. The palace, originally designed by Constantine I, was located between the Hippodrome and the Hagia Sophia Church and has a long history of destruction and renovations.

The palace was lavishly decorated with mosaics between 450 and 550 C.E. The mosaics feature daily life, nature, and mythology. The mythological element can be seen with this mosaic of Oceanus, the divine personification of the Ocean Sea (Atlantic Ocean). In Greek mythology, Oceanus’s parents are Uranus and Gaia, and he is married to his sister-wife Tethys, with whom he has eight children.

This mosaic and the plethora of others are currently housed in the Great Palace Mosaic Museum in Istanbul.

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