The tree of life (inside the Cathedral)
The floor mosaic of the Cathedral of Otranto was made between 1163 and 1165 by a monk called Pantaleone. Composed of approximately 600,000 limestone tesserae, the mosaic covers nearly the entire floor of the Cathedral.
In the central nave a tree is depicted, with the branches of Good and Evil, which, according to most scholars, represents the tree of life, but there are different schools of thought and so far a common conclusion that is able to satisfy all theories has not been reached.
Around the tree a multitude of scenes are depicted. They are taken from the Old Testament as well as from other sources.
Some of the most important scenes are: the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, King Arthur on the back of a goat, Cain holding a stick and slaying Abel bent in pain, the Devil in the shape of a serpent between Adam and Eve, the Flood with God’s hand on Noah who is kneeling and on the other side the animals going into the Ark.
The abundance of the elements represented, which depict numerous symbols of different cultures, are a further witness to the fact that the geographical position of Otranto has favoured exchanges and encounters between different cultures and peoples, between West and East.