Friday, June 19, 2020

A short history of Roman tessellated mosaics

Although scholars disagree on the dating of the evolution of tesselated mosaic from earlier pebble mosaics, most agree this occurred during the 3rd century BCE.  Mosaics are thought to have appeared in Pompeii in the late 2nd and early 1st centuries BCE.  More complex three dimensional scenes were introduced during the Pompeian Second Style about 80 - 20 BCE.  Like panel paintings, sometimes mosaics were mounted in frames so they could be moved during renovation or demolition.   Although elaborate mosaics depicted divine characters or mythological scenes, others depicted still life, animals, and scenes from everyday life.

I photographed this mosaic in Pompeii back in 2007. Like other visitors to Pompeii, based on other images of this mosaic I've seen on Flickr, I initially thought this was a mosaic of a wolf.  But as I examined it closer, I think this may actually be a mosaic of a wild boar based on the apparent tail, the stripes above the hind quarters, the bristled hair and what appear to be tusks on the snout.  The right foreleg also appears to terminate a cloven hoof. 
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