This house threshold mosaic, found near Hadrumetum in modern-day Mokenine, is a form of protective magic which is meant to guard against the Evil Eye. The phallic fish combines two traditions of protective magic: phallic-shaped objects were an extremely common form of apotropaic magic going back at least as far as ancient Greece, while fish were commonly depicted in North African mosaics as protective charms. (In fact, still today there is the practice in Carthage of throwing a fish or representation of a fish into the foundations of a new house, and fish are considered good luck charms in Tunis. See D. Soren et al (1990), 244.)



Source: First publication: Inv. Tun. 78, a & b. Cf. K.M.D. Dunbabin (1978), 162 and Plate no. 163.



(For two similar apotropaic mosaics from North Africa, click here.)