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At the heart of the Worcester Art Museum is the Renaissance Court, a cloister brought over en bloc from France and paved with one of the finest collections of Roman mosaics in the US, from Antakya (Antioch) in Turkey. These are from the floors of domestic interiors, cemeteries, baths and porticoes and excavated under a consortium of American institutions and universities, including Princeton, Baltimore and Harvard. They arrived in shipments from 1933 to 1939, to be reassembled on the floor and around the Renaissance Court. The largest mosaic, measuring 500 sq ft and depicting a hunt, covers the main floor of the Court. It comes from a Roman villa destroyed in an earthquake in AD 526 and was transported in five sections that each weighed more than a ton.
The museum also has a fine collection of Islamic Art including an illustration of Bayezid I, ‘The Thunderblt’, routing the Crusaders at the battle of Nicopolis, from the 1584 Hunerama Loqman, the largest and one of the finest illustrated historical documents from the Ottoman classical period. The original manuscript, minus this page and two others, is now in the Topkapi Saray Museum in Istanbul.
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