A lion sinks his teeth and claws into the back of a fallen onager (wild ass) in the scene portrayed on this fragmentary mosaic. Blood flows from the wounded victim, who attempts to fight back, turning towards the lion. The scene takes place in an outdoor setting characterized by two trees, one on each side, and the bank of a stream in the foreground; the sky is suggested by a neutral, white background. A border survives on two adjoining sides of the fragment, but the original extent of the mosaic on the other sides is unknown. A single polychrome guilloche runs below the main scene. The mosaic is formed from tesserae, small cubes of colored marble, stone, and glass, set into a bed of mortar.
This small panel likely decorated the floor of a luxurious villa in Hadrumetum (present-day Sousse, Tunisia). Although the scene could be considered complete in itself, it probably featured in a larger floor depicting several scenes. Mosaics of animal combat in natural settings as well as in the arena were especially popular in Roman mosaics of North Africa. In the second century A.D., the Roman province of Africa, including modern Tunisia, was flourishing. The region was important both economically and politically, and this wealth and power translated into artistic production. More mosaics survive from Tunisia than any other part of the Roman Empire.