The life and times of a Roman Mosaicist.

When the Roman Empire was in full swing its people wanted a bit more from their homes than just a dirt floor or a bed of reed rushes. When a Villa was being built they would call upon the services of a Mosaicist to come along and plan out the design for a room. We don’t use the process anymore but should you need some Gloucestershire Commercial Contract Flooring then a company like can be the answer. What would the Mosaicist do?

A mosaic is a painstaking, but very rewarding piece of work. The pattern is made up of hundreds, in some cases thousands of small to medium cubes of stone arrange to make a picture or pattern. The stones are heated to change their colour so the general scheme that you get with a mosaic is a mixture of black, browns, orange and white. Despite this limited pallet the mosaicists were able to create some incredible detailed pieces of work. Around the Mediterranean basin there was access to other colours such as blue but in general the colours above make up the theme.

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The mosaicist sits with a selection of cubes or tesserae as they are known next to them. With a sketch of the picture in front of them they would start to create the picture or pattern. This was “glued” onto a hessian sack coated with a form of Roman limestone based cement. Many of the patterns such as the famous Greek meander would have been ready made in sections for shipment and part of the border options. The same was true for the knotted coil border. This saved the Mosaicist time plus it allowed for apprentices to learn the trade on these popular fashionable designs.

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The Mosaicist would have also premade certain scenes and depictions of Gods at play or respectful likenesses of the chosen Deity as they would have been sure to have them requested. For example, the God of Wine and a general goodtime Bacchus would have been in the dining room section where as the Goddess of Farming Ceres would have been aimed at the rural community.

Our thinking on how the Mosaics were shipped out to the Villas have changed. Originally it was thought that the Mosaicist would come out with a few assistants and spend days applying the tesserae on site. However, archaeological and written evidence suggest that the Mosaics were pre made and not bespoke, being part of a range of option as we mentioned above. These sections were sent out and then laid together saving considerable time, as long as they got there in one piece!



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