The work of mosaic was common in Ancient Greece. It was quickly adopted by Romans that originate the new art genre of real specialty. It spread across the Roman Empire that there was not a house or a villa without mosaics.
Romans made mosaic with little pieces of tesserae wich refers to the technique opus tessellatum. Tesserae are typically cubes, made from calcareous rocks, glass or ceramics. They were in different sizes, made with high care and complexity. The artist put them on the surface, like a puzzle, changing the color and shape with cement.
¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†Mosaic of navigation (Tunisia) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Mosaic of peacocks¬†(Jerusalem)
Mosaic was a decorative element for the Roman architectural spaces and the Greek and Roman artists who produced mosaics were called “mosaistas”.
At first, when the Roman mosaic art started to develop in Rome, the mosaic was put on the roofs and walls. It was rarely put on the floor because of the fear that they would take the place to walk on. Later, when the art has been perfected, Romans discovered that the can step on the mosaics whitout the risk of damaging them wich resulted in the new trend-luxury mosaic pavements. The high quality and luxury of mosaics in ancient Rome is equal to that of modern Persian carpets.
Depending on the size of tesserae, the drawings and the destination place of the Roma mosaic, Romans gave them different names:
- Opus vermiculatum:¬†Originated in Egypt, it is made with small pebbles that give the artist ability to draw curves, silhouettes and all types of objects with ease and high precision. The tesserae were placed in continuous rows followed by the lines of contour wich diminished the internal space for the drawing. The name is derived from the Latin diminutive vermiculus (vermis- is, worm). It was called like that because tue lines of the drawing remind winding of the worm.
- Opus musivum: This technique was used mainly on the walls. This technique started to be used at the end of the III century.
- Opus sectile:¬†These types of drawings where made with bigger rocks of the different sizes. Marble that was used for this type of mosaic were cut and inlaid into walls to make geometric figure representing animals or humans.
Arte Romano de M√©rida Musseum –¬†Man Hunting Wild Boar
The process to make Roman mosaic fo the pavement consists of series of steps that were perfected in time. The place of manufacturing mosaic was a special workshop.
The first step required designing the painting, wich was called emblem, derived from the Greek word that menas “Something that is embebbed in”.
The next step after the designing the picture was splitting tesserae according to the further coloring. A draft of the mosaic was drawn on the papyrus or fabric and the tiles that were previously chosen were placed on the model and then attached to the template.
When the work was finished, experts transported the mosaic to the destination place, where the mosaic artist could complete his work.