Trilingual Tarragona basin

Type: Sculptures
Date: Fifth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Spain
Medium: Marble
Dimensions: Approximately 14 × 57 × 44 cm
Description: Tarraco, known today as Tarragona, was the oldest Roman settlement on the Iberian Peninsula and became one of three provincial capitals in Roman Hispania. By the fifth century, when this marble basin was made, the city had come under Vandal and then Visigothic control. The basin is one of the few Jewish objects to survive from the Iberian Peninsula during this time.

On one side, a seven-branched menorah appears with other ritual objects: a tree-shaped lulav (sometimes identified as a tree of life) and possibly a shofar (a ram's horn used for religious purposes). The carvings also include two peacocks facing inwards and the remains of a trilingual inscription: "Peace upon Israel and upon us and upon our sons, amen" (in Hebrew), "Peace, faith" (in Latin), and an illegible inscription in Greek. Although the original users of the basin were evidently Jewish, its purpose remains unclear. After the Jews were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the late fifteenth century, the basin was adapted to non-Jewish use and a drainage hole added.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 2
Image Credits: Linda Safran; Wikimedia

« Back

Toledo, Museo Sefardí, basin Toledo, Museo Sefardí, logo based on the trilingual basin