Be Cheerful, Live your life– that is the translation of the words on this mosaic.
Archaeologists recently uncovered this wonderful mosaic floor with those words in Antakya, formerly the Greek-Roman city of Antiocheia, in Turkey that dates back over 2200 years, back to the third century BC. This is an area that is famous for the discovery of a multitude of floor mosaics that once decorated the homes of the upper crust of society.
This particular mosaic feature three panels with the final panel being a reclining skeleton with bread and wine just chilling out. The central panel shows a man with butler in tow heading anxiously toward his evening bath which was a communal event at the time. 9 PM was the time for bathing and to be late was frowned upon which he obviously is as he is pointing to a sundial which indicates the time as being between 9 and 10 PM. The first panel, which is damaged, is thought to have a figure throwing fire which is symbolic of the preparation for a bath.
But it’s the skeleton with it’s message that kind of lines up with Bobby McFerrin‘s song from a number of years back, Don’t Worry Be Happy, that catches our modern eye. I think we don’t give the people from the past, both from the near past and the very distant past, with having a sophisticated view of life or sense of humor. To see something like this gives us a closer connection to how they saw their own world as well as allowing us to see that they were not so different than us even though 2200 years separate us.
So, if you’re fretting on this Monday, hurrying around to beat the clock (or sundial), just remember that partying skeleton and heed its advice–Be cheerful and live your life. If you need an accompanying beat to start the week off on the right foot, there’s little dose of the Booby McFerrin song at the bottom.