On the 16th October 2014, the Trendles team visited Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire to see the travelling exhibition of the Lod mosaics, part of a very elaborate set of late Roman mosaics discovered in the Israeli city of Lod in Israel. One large panel was conserved and removed in sections so it could be shown in museums across America and Europe. The design on this panel is very unusual and shows a large array of wild animals, sea creatures, and a marine scene with boats of the period – all portrayed in great detail and done with great skill. Accompanying this mosaic was a small exhibition from the private Rothschild collection, of Roman antiquities from the same period, including gold jewellery, coins, pottery and other artefacts.
The realistic details of the animals and the fish was quite amazing and we all spent a long time looking at the intricacies of the design and speculating on how they would have constructed this and how many artists and craftsmen might have been involved. Everybody seemed to have a favourite creature or scene on the mosaic. Mine was probably the very detailed depiction of two cargo boats, showing all the rigging and technical features, plus for some mysterious reason two almost cartoon-style ducks sitting prominently on the back of each ship! None of us could work out why there were ducks on board or what they might symbolise – so if anybody could enlighten us on this point we would love to hear from you!
We finished the day with lunch at the café, a wander around the beautiful gardens and for some a lingering look at the famous Rothschild wine cellars and impressive wine shop. As no Roman style wine was available, and sticking to our archaeological theme for the day, we only looked and did not imbibe!