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Following the thread of the representations of cities in Medieval art, we seize the opportunity to point out an extremely interesting text, both for archaeology and for art history, which presents another image of the city of Gaza.

N. Duval, "Le rappresentazioni architettoniche", in Umm Al-Rasas 1, Gli scavi del complesso di Santo Stefano (a cura di M. Piccirillo e E. Alliata), Jerusalem 1994, pp.165-207.

Umm Al-Rasas (the biblical Kastron Mefaa) is an ancient city in Jordan which is coming to light thanks to excavations, which began in 1986 and are still under way, led by the archaeological mission of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum , in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. What we are interested in reporting here are the pavement mosaics found in the church of Saint Stephen, which date back to the VIII century (see M. Piccirillo, I mosaici del complesso di Santo Stefano, ivi, pp. 121-164) and, in particular, the 'frieze of the cities' which has been described and analysed in detail by Duval. It concludes laterally the central carpet decorated with acanthus volutes: to the south there are the representations of the cities of Transjordania and to the north those of Palestine, including GAZA. The iconographic criteria adopted correspond, on the one hand, to the schematic and synthetic tradition which belongs to the art of the late Middle Ages, while on the other they do not exclude 'realistic' representation by highlighting the most representative monuments.

In this case, Gaza is surrounded by high turreted polygonal walls as in the frescoes of Anagni (see above) with at the centre a monumental basilica, which, on the contrary, does not appear there. In this context, however, it must be kept in mind that the Jordanian mosaics represent a 'real' city, while the Anagni frescoes represent a 'literary' place in the Bible.

Simona Manacorda

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