North Africa, Carthage, ca. 5th to 6th century CE. A square terracotta tile decorated in relief with a schematic depiction of the famous Old Testament scene - Adam and Eve standing on either side of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil with a sinuous serpent wrapped around the tree. Adam stands to the left and Eve to the right of the Tree of Knowledge, both assuming poses of modesty. The entire scene is flanked by two columns. Such tiles were created in Carthage during the 5th and 6th centuries and depicted a variety of Biblical as well as everyday scenes. A wonderful and quite early depiction of this story from the Book of Genesis. Size: 10.125" W x 10.5" H (25.7 cm x 26.7 cm)
The earliest known depiction of a biblical scene comes from Pompeii, a site that was famously buried with volcanic ash following the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. Excavators found a wall painting that depicts the Judgement of Solomon in the House of the Physician that was obviously made prior to the destruction of Pompeii during the 1st century CE. In addition, frescoes depicting Old Testament stories such as the Sacrifice of Isaac , Samuel Annointing David, Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law, and Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt were created in the Synagogue of Dura Europos in Syria, ca. 245 to 256 CE. This example followed in the 5th century - still an exceptionally early work depicting an Old Testament scene.
Compare to similar example in De Carhage a Kairouan, 2000 ans d'art et histoire en Tunisie, Musee du Pitit Palais, October 1983 exhibition.
This piece is accompanied by an export document from Israel dating to 2006.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex private prominent D.K. New York, USA collector, acquired in 2000s; accompanied by export document from Israel dating to 2006
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Repaired from two large pieces. Expected surface wear with abraded areas and losses to peripheries, high-pointed areas, and recessed areas as shown. Imagery is still discernible.