More on the Shellal Mosaic

21 January 2008 by Robyn Van-Dyk

This post is a further comment regarding Emily Robertson's post on the Shellal Mosaic. When researching for the exhibition I came across some references to the mosaic in the collection of papers of General Sir Henry George Chauvel. In a letter to his wife on 3 May 1917 he mentions some damage done to the mosaic by Turkish forces and that he had contacted the Director of Antiquities to remove it. The letter was transcribed into Lady Chauvel’s scrapbook which she compiled after the war. The page of the scrap book displayed here also includes three photographs of the mosaic before it was removed.

Reference to Shellal Mosaic in the Chauvel Scrapbook

May 3rd. We have discovered a very handsome mosaic floor in the Turkish works at Shellal. It is one of the finest I have seen, and the Padre (Maitland Woods) reckons from the inscription on it, which is Greek, that it should be about 400 AD. It is about 15 ft long by about 15 ft wide, but the Turks have rather spoilt it by digging a machine gun emplacement through one end of it.  I have written to the Director of Antiquities at Cairo, and suggested that he should remove it. I believe that it can be done. In the meantime, one of Chaytor’s men in sketching it in colour, and we are going to get copies of it to sell in aid of the red cross, or our memorial fund.