the entrance gate to Qasr Libya museum

Qasr Libya Museum


The Museum of Qasr Libya (Castle Libya) is in a sense a Mosaic Museum. The mosaics were excavated from the nearby Christian church after they were discovered by Libyan labourers in 1957 (see full story below). The collection contains 50 panels, mostly of animals, gods, goddesses, nymphs, and famous landmarks like the Pharos light house of Alexandria; illustrating the coexistence of Christian beliefs with the earlier pre-Christian iconography.  The pagan or ancient religious traditions continued to flourish among the early Christians around the Mediterranean basin, and in some respects to the present day as folklore.



The history of Qasr Libya goes back to the Greek period (4th century BC), as it was called Olbia. The complex contained two churches: the eastern church, which was discovered in 1957, and the western church, discovered in 1964; near which a small archaeological museum was built in the 1960s. This museum was completed and opened in 1972 and became known as The Byzantine Mosaic Museum, which housed the mosaic floors of the western church.


mosaic panels from qasr Libya museum

Breathtaking mosaic scenes preserve a glimpse of life as it was in ancient Cyrenaica, including a Nile scene of a farmer in action to rescue his beloved cows from the jaws of a crocodile. Other scenes include those of goddesses, nymphs, rivers, buildings, hymns, musicians, animals (including peacocks, ostriches, camels and horses), seafaring ships and a boat.

Newspaper Article Reporting The Discovery In 1957

The following newspaper article, also in display in the museum, describes the story or the history of the museum. The included black & white image shows the floor in its original state.


qasr Libya newspaper  article 1

Read the full article here:

Part one: temehu.com/pictures/museums4/qasr-libya-museum-newspaper-clip-part1.jpg

Part two: temehu.com/pictures/museums4/qasr-libya-museum-newspaper-clip-part2.jpg

Part three:temehu.com/pictures/museums4/qasr-libya-museum-newspaper-clip-part3.jpg




List of The Mosaic Panels

The floor of the building contains 50 mosaic panels:



  1. Kosmisis (Adornment)
  2. Ktisis
  3. Nymph Kastalia
  4. Ananewsis
  5. New Town (Thedo)
  6. Horseman
  7. Church
  8. Castle
  9. A satyr
  10. Musician & his dog
  11. Merman & trident
  12. Basket & four birds
  13. Pharos light house
  14. Deer & fruit tree
  15. Couchant deer
  16. Lion
  17. Ostrich
  18. Lion
  19. Eagle
  20. Stag devouring a snake
  21. Bear
  22. Duck & crocodile
  23. Bull
  24. Zebra
  25. Zebra beast



  1. Nile scene & lotus
  2. Geon the Nile
  3. Physon river Danube
  4. Nile Scene
  5. River Euphrates
  6. Nile scene
  7. River Tigris
  8. An amphibious
  9. Amphibious monster
  10. Boat & two people
  11. Stag grazing
  12. Deer
  13. Foundation panel: 539AD
  14. Leopard
  15. Bull
  16. Fish & urchin
  17. Fish
  18. Fish & shell
  19. Horse
  20. Ostrich
  21. Peacock
  22. Two birds & vase
  23. Three fish & lobster
  24. Crab, fish & squid
  25. Ram



laid in 539 AD

This tile says that the mosaic work was laid in the third year of an indiction by bishop Makarios in 539 AD. An indiction is a 15-year cycle, used to date documents, with each year being numbered as follows: first indiction, second indiction, third indiction, and so on.


this mosaic shows the Pharos light house in Alexandria

The famous Pharos Lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt,
with a statue of the Sun-God Helios, the giver of light.



The nymph Kastalia

The Nymph Kastalia (or Castalia) of Delphi, looking very relaxed.

The nymph of the prophetic springs of the Delphic Oracle on Mount Parnassos in Greece. Her name was said to mean: kass- (to sew), in reference to the two springs being mythically connected: the Aitolian river Akheloos emerging from Mount Parnassos as Kassotis, and then its reappearance as the spring Kastalia. The water from the well Cassotis at Delphi was said to give the temple's priestess the power of prophecy.



The Nile River God Geon.

The Nile River God Geon.

In mythology river gods are the offspring of the great Goddess Oceanos (or Okeanos - the ocean); the brothers of the Oceanides, the goddesses of streams; and the fathers of the Naiades the nymphs of springs; hereby represented by the god Geon, in reference to the river Nile, who is said to be related to the Indian river god Ganges.



Tigris River God

The Tigris River God




The Euphrates River God

The Euphrates River God




The River Nymph Physon

The River Nymph Physon



The Forest  Satyr

The Forest & Woods Satyr: The God of Fertility.

The beastly nature of the representations of this mythical character stems from its association with the nature of woods and human desires and thus its appearance in earlier Greek art as an old and ugly figure. Although the Romans portrayed him as half man (upper half) and half goat with a goat's tail, the earlier Greek representations showed him as half man half horse.



a musician playing music with his dog looking amuzing

A musician playing music, with his dog looking amazingly amused.

a musician playing music with his dog looking amuzing




A merman spearing a fish with his trident

A Merman With A Tiller & Trident




Nile scene of waterfwols, lotus and fish

Nile Scene of Waterfowls, Lotus Flowers And Fish




Fabulous crocodile

A Duck on The Back of a Fabulous Crocodile.




A bear ready to bounce

A Bear in Action.




Ananewsis: Bejewelled Female In Curtained Canopy



Kosmisis from qasr Libya

Kosmisis (Adornment)



Ktisis mosaic from qasr libya museum

The Goddess Ktisis

The personification of generosity and donation, as expressed by the branch she is holding with her right hand, and as such she can be seen as a reincarnation of Isis (Kt-Isis) - the Goddess of Agriculture. The features of Ktisis and cloths strongly express her Libyan nature.



water birds

Water Birds




a lion





A Stag Devouring A Snake

A Stag Devouring A Snake




Fabulous Amphibian Monster

A Fabulous Amphibian Monster And A Conch




a bull





a church

Church Facade With Tasseled Curtains





a horsman ridinga horse with a tree  in the background