Roman Mosaics1. Define or describe your subject.Mosaics are a primary form of architecture and decoration that are made by assembling pieces of small cubes of stone, glass, pottery, and other materials like these to form an image like a geometric design or a scene from life or nature. A Roman Mosaic is a mosaic that was created during the Roman period, within and throughout the Roman Empire.2. Which civilization(s) did your subject come from?The Egyptians are believed to be the first to create and display mosaics. The Persians and Greeks were also among the first to use this art form. The Romans were uninterested in mosaics at all but rather in extending their borders. It was not until the Romans came into contact with Greece while sacking Corinth that their interest in mosaics and art was sparked. In truth, the Romans only borrowed an idea but they took that idea and ran!3. What are the dates of the civilization whose subject you used?The ancient, western Roman Empire lasted from 753 BC to 27 BC.4. How and why did your civilization use the subject?The Romans throughout the Roman Empire used mosaics as a way of decorating and proving their wealth. Mosaics usually decorated the floors of villas and palaces as well as the floors of halls, dining rooms, corridors, and bathing pools of the Empire’s wealthy citizens. Lower class citizens could enjoy mosaics in public spaces like sidewalks, walls, and public baths.5. Of what materials would your subject been made in its time?Ancient Romans would have made mosaics out of tesserae and mortar. In other instances, opus signinum was also used to create mosaics in place of or along with mortar. Tesserae are small geometric cubes usually cut from marble, pottery, stone, or glass that are still used today by mosaicists. Opus signinum is a combination of mortar and crushed limestone used as mortar and grout to create mosaics.6. Did the subject require special craftsmen in its time to make? If so, what skills? Where were they needed? Describe the craftsman.Craftsmen were certainly needed during the Roman Empire to construct the beautiful mosaics that we have been discovered. To complete a mosaic, the craftsman would require the ability to copy designs. They would have to know various techniques and styles that were learned in specific schools in Tunis and Alexandria. There is not much information on the craftsmen who were capable of creating mosaics and therefore I cannot elaborate any further or add to my answer.7. Was your subject used by any particular person or persons, or by everyone? Name and describe the people and how they would have used the subject.Generally, only rich Roman noblemen could afford the cost of having mosaics constructed by special craftsmen. The wealthy commissioned the building of mosaics in their homes to highlight their wealth, accomplishments, and education. In villas or palaces, the wealthy used mosaics to decorate and support foot traffic in a fashionable way. Other times mosaics were commissioned by the public.8. How was the subject unique to your civilization, or was it a common subject used by many civilizations in the ancient world?Mosaic making was not unique to the Roman empire. Many civilizations used and constructed mosaics in similar ways as the Romans did. The Assyrians, Mesopotamians, Persians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Phrygians, Greeks, and Mayans are among some of the civilizations to create mosaics, some of which practiced this art form before the Romans. Mosaics were already in existence and popular in some civilizations before the Romans even knew and cared about mosaics. Even so, mosaics made in the Roman Empire have their own style.9. Did your subject have any religious significance? Explain.Classic Roman mosaics, excluding Byzantine mosaics, were not primarily made for religious purposes. Though Roman gods, goddesses, and mythological creatures are depicted in some Roman mosaics, it was not to worship the gods in a religious way. Rather, their purpose was most likely to ward off evil or prevent bad luck.10. Was the subject connected to a particular or specific historical event such as war or battle or other event? If so, which one? Describe the connection.From a particular perspective, the beginning of Roman mosaics sprouted from the sacking of Corinth because all the artwork brought back from Greece inspired the Romans. This historical event was the turning point and the connection between the Romans and the art of mosaics.11. Is your subject still in existence today? Is an original in any museum?There are many ancient Roman mosaics that have been preserved, many of which are in museums now. The art of making mosaics still continues today as it did at the time of the Roman Empire and before. Some original Roman mosaics that archaeologists have excavated are at the National Bardo Museum as well as the J. Paul Getty Museum.12. What would be the size of the original of your project? Give the dimensions.Ancient Roman mosaics vary in size, but most mosaics were large. Some were as large as the floor of a dining room or public bath. The Battle of Issus Mosaic in Pompeii is a large floor mosaic that is 8 ft, 11 in by 16 ft, 10 in. 13. List at least five facts about your subject that you found interesting and are not covered by the questions above.The color of the tesserae in Roman mosaics has the same vibrancy as it did when they were first constructed. Tesserae, which are usually small blocks of stone, tile, or glass, hardly faded at all.Some mosaics in Pompeii said “Cave Canem”, “Beware of Dog” in English, because Romans liked to own dogs. This message, which was incorporated into the design of a mosaic, was handy for visitors.Mosaics were used on ceilings and walls as well as on floors, though very rarely. Floor mosaics were the most popular mosaics.In the first century AD in Italy and Gaul, France, black and white mosaics were “in style”. The reason black and white mosaics were so popular is uncertain. Some sources say it was for cost-saving reasons while other sources say that theory is unlikely.Mosaicists in ancient Rome had their own styles just like artists today. Large mosaics required many hands to complete and so the different styles become evident when mixed into one mosaic.