Mosaic

Mosaic

Overview


Mosaic is the art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

. Small pieces, normally roughly cubic
Cube
In geometry, a cube is a three-dimensional solid object bounded by six square faces, facets or sides, with three meeting at each vertex. The cube can also be called a regular hexahedron and is one of the five Platonic solids. It is a special kind of square prism, of rectangular parallelepiped and...

, of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae, (diminutive tessellae), are used to create a pattern
Pattern
A pattern, from the French patron, is a type of theme of recurring events or objects, sometimes referred to as elements of a set of objects.These elements repeat in a predictable manner...

 or picture.




The earliest known examples of mosaics made of different materials were found at a temple building in Abra, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, and are dated to the second half of 3rd millennium BC.
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Encyclopedia


Mosaic is the art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

. Small pieces, normally roughly cubic
Cube
In geometry, a cube is a three-dimensional solid object bounded by six square faces, facets or sides, with three meeting at each vertex. The cube can also be called a regular hexahedron and is one of the five Platonic solids. It is a special kind of square prism, of rectangular parallelepiped and...

, of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae, (diminutive tessellae), are used to create a pattern
Pattern
A pattern, from the French patron, is a type of theme of recurring events or objects, sometimes referred to as elements of a set of objects.These elements repeat in a predictable manner...

 or picture.

History





The earliest known examples of mosaics made of different materials were found at a temple building in Abra, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, and are dated to the second half of 3rd millennium BC. They consist of pieces of colored stones, shells and ivory. Excavations at Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

 and Choqa Zanbil
Choqa Zanbil
Chogha Zanbil ; Elamite: Dur Untash) is an ancient Elamite complex in the Khuzestan province of Iran.It is one of the few existent ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia...

 show evidence of the first glazed tiles, dating from around 1500 BC. However, mosaic patterns were not used until the times of Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 and Roman influence.

Mosaics of the 4th century BC are found in the Macedonian palace-city of Aegae and they enriched the floors of Hellenistic villa
Villa
A villa was originally an ancient Roman upper-class country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic, villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity,...

s, and Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 dwellings from Britain to Dura-Europos
Dura-Europos
Dura-Europos , also spelled Dura-Europus, was a Hellenistic, Parthian and Roman border city built on an escarpment 90 m above the right bank of the Euphrates river. It is located near the village of Salhiyé, in today's Syria....

. The 4th century BC mosaic of The Beauty of Durrës
The Beauty of Durrës
The Beauty of Durrës or The Beautiful Maiden of Durrës is a polychromatic mosaic of the 4th century BC; the most ancient and prominent mosaic discovered in Albania up to date. The mosaic is elliptical in shape and depicts a woman’s head on a black background surrounded by flowers and floral elements...

 discovered in Durrës
Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city of Albania located on the central Albanian coast, about west of the capital Tirana. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. Durres is situated at one of the narrower points of the Adriatic Sea, opposite the Italian ports of Bari...

, Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 in 1916, is a rare example of expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 in portrait during the ancient world. Splendid mosaic floors are found in Roman villas across North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, in places such as Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, and can still be seen in the extensive collection in Bardo Museum
Bardo Museum
The Bardo National Museum is a museum located in Tunis, Tunisia.-Location:...

 in Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

, Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

. In Rome, Nero and his architects used mosaics to cover the surfaces of walls and ceilings in the Domus Aurea
Domus Aurea
The Domus Aurea was a large landscaped portico villa, designed to take advantage of artificially created landscapes built in the heart of Ancient Rome by the Emperor Nero after the Great Fire of Rome had cleared away the aristocratic dwellings on the slopes of the Palatine...

, built 64 AD.

The mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale
Villa Romana del Casale
Villa Romana del Casale is a Roman villa built in the first quarter of the 4th century and located about 5 km outside the town of Piazza Armerina, Sicily, southern Italy...

 near Piazza Armerina
Piazza Armerina
Piazza Armerina is an Italian comune in the province of Enna of the autonomous island region of Sicily.-History:...

 in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 are the largest collection of late Roman mosaics in situ in the world, and are protected as a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. The large villa rustica, which was probably owned by Emperor Maximian
Maximian
Maximian was Roman Emperor from 286 to 305. He was Caesar from 285 to 286, then Augustus from 286 to 305. He shared the latter title with his co-emperor and superior, Diocletian, whose political brain complemented Maximian's military brawn. Maximian established his residence at Trier but spent...

, was built largely in the early 4th century. The mosaics were covered and protected for 700 years by a landslide that occurred in the 12th century. The most important pieces are the Circus Scene, the 64 m long Great Hunting Scene, the Little Hunt, the Labours of Hercules and the famous Bikini Girls, showing women exercising in modern-looking bikinis. The peristyle
Peristyle
In Hellenistic Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a columned porch or open colonnade in a building surrounding a court that may contain an internal garden. Tetrastoon is another name for this feature...

, the imperial apartments and the thermae
Thermae
In ancient Rome, thermae and balnea were facilities for bathing...

 were also decorated with ornamental and mythological mosaics. Other important examples of Roman mosaic art in Sicily were unearthed on the Piazza Vittoria in Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 where two houses were discovered. The most important scenes there depicted Orpheus, Alexander the Great's Hunt and the Four Seasons.
In 1913, Zliten mosaic
Zliten mosaic
The Zliten mosaic is a Roman floor mosaic from about the 2nd century AD, found in the town of Zliten in Libya, on the east coast of Leptis Magna. The mosaic was discovered by the Italian archaeologist Salvatore Aurigemma in 1913 and is now on display at The Archaeological Museum of Tripoli...

, a Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 mosaic, famous for its many scenes from gladiatorial contests, hunting and everyday life was discovered in the Libyan
Libyan
A Libyan is a person or thing of, from, or related to Libya in North Africa.The term Libyan may also refer to:* A person from Libya, or of Libyan descent. For information about the Libyan people, see Demographics of Libya and Culture of Libya. For specific persons, see List of Libyans.* Libyan...

 town of Zliten
Zliten
Zliten is a town in the Misrata District of Libya. It is located on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea west of the Gulf of Sidra. It was the capital of the former Zlitan District.-Location:...

.
In 2000 archaeologists working in Leptis Magna
Leptis Magna
Leptis Magna also known as Lectis Magna , also called Lpqy, Neapolis, Lebida or Lebda to modern-day residents of Libya, was a prominent city of the Roman Empire. Its ruins are located in Khoms, Libya, east of Tripoli, on the coast where the Wadi Lebda meets the sea...

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 uncovered a 30 ft length of five colorful mosaics created during the 1st or 2nd century AD. The mosaics show a warrior in combat with a deer, four young men wrestling a wild bull to the ground, and a gladiator resting in a state of fatigue, staring at his slain opponent. The mosaics decorated the walls of a cold plunge pool in a bath house within a Roman villa. The gladiator mosaic is noted by scholars as one of the finest examples of mosaic art ever seen — a "masterpiece comparable in quality with the Alexander Mosaic
Alexander Mosaic
The Alexander Mosaic, dating from circa 100 BC, is a famous Roman floor mosaic originally from the House of the Faun in Pompeii. It depicts a battle between the armies of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia and measures 5.82 x 3.13m .-Battle:The mosaic illustrates a battle in which...

 in Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

."

Beautiful and impressive are also the recent findings in Zeugma.

Early Christian art



With the building of Christian basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

s in the late 4th century, wall and ceiling mosaics were adopted for Christian uses. The earliest examples of Christian basilicas have not survived, but the mosaics of Santa Constanza and Santa Pudenziana
Santa Pudenziana
The basilica of Santa Pudenziana is a 4th century church in Rome, dedicated to Saint Pudentiana, sister of Saint Praxedis and daughter of Saint Pudens. It is the national church of the Philippines....

, both from the 4th century, still exist. The winemaking putti in the ambulatory
Ambulatory
The ambulatory is the covered passage around a cloister. The term is sometimes applied to the procession way around the east end of a cathedral or large church and behind the high altar....

 of Santa Constanza still follow the classical tradition in that they represent the feast of Bacchus
Bacchus
Bacchus is the Roman name for Dionysus, the god of wine and intoxication.Bacchus can also refer to:* Temple of Bacchus, a Roman temple at a large classical antiquity complex in Baalbek, Lebanon...

, which symbolizes transformation or change, and are thus appropriate for a mausoleum, the original function of this building. In another great Constantinian basilica, the Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and thus it is considered sacred by Christians...

 in Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 the original mosaic floor with typical Roman geometric motifs is partially preserved. The so-called Tomb of the Julii
Tomb of the Julii
The popularly-named "Tomb of the Julii" survives in the Vatican Necropolis beneath St. Peter's Basilica, the so-called "Vatican grotto"...

, near the crypt beneath St Peter's Basilica, is a 4th-century vaulted tomb with wall and ceiling mosaics that are given Christian interpretations. The former Tomb of Galerius in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

, converted into a Christian church during the course of the 4th century, was embellished with very high artistic quality mosaics. Only fragments survive of the original decoration, especially a band depicting saints with hands raised in prayer, in front of complex architectural fantasies.

In the following century Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, the capital of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, became the center of late Roman mosaic art (see details in Ravenna section). Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 also served as the capital of the western empire in the 4th century. In the St Aquilinus Chapel of the Basilica of San Lorenzo
Basilica of San Lorenzo, Milan
The Basilica of Saint Lawrence is a church in Milan, northern Italy, dedicated to the Christian martyr St. Lawrence.- History :Various suggestions of its origin have been made, including a foundation in c.370., the Basilica of San Lorenzo was renovated and redecorated in the 16th century...

, mosaics executed in the late 4th and early 5th centuries depict Christ with the Apostles and the Abduction of Elijah; these mosaics are outstanding for their bright colors, naturalism and adherence to the classical canons of order and proportion. The surviving apse mosaic of the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio
Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio
The Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio is a church in Milan, northern Italy.-History:One of the most ancient churches in Milan, it was built by St. Ambrose in 379-386, in an area where numerous martyrs of the Roman persecutions had been buried. The first name of the church was in fact Basilica...

, which shows Christ enthroned between Saint Gervasius and Saint Protasius and angels before a golden background date back to the 5th and to the 8th century, although it was restored many times later. The baptistery of the basilica, which was demolished in the 15th century, had a vault covered with gold-leaf tesserae, large quantities of which were found when the site was excavated. In the small shrine of San Vittore in ciel d'oro, now a chapel of Sant'Ambrogio, every surface is covered with mosaics from the second half of the 5th century. Saint Victor is depicted in the center of the golden dome, while figures of saints are shown on the walls before a blue background. The low spandrels give space for the symbols of the four Evangelists.

Albingaunum
Albenga
Albenga is a city and comune situated on the Gulf of Genoa on the Italian Riviera in the Province of Savona in Liguria, northern Italy.left|thumb|220px|Towers of Albenga.The economy is mostly based on tourism, local commerce and agriculture-History:...

 was the main Roman port of Liguria
Liguria
Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy, the third smallest of the Italian regions. Its capital is Genoa. It is a popular region with tourists for its beautiful beaches, picturesque little towns, and good food.-Geography:...

. The octagonal baptistery of the town was decorated in the 5th century with high quality blue and white mosaics representing the Apostles. The surviving remains are somewhat fragmented.

A mosaic pavement depicting humans, animals and plants from the original 4th-century cathedral of Aquileia
Aquileia
Aquileia is an ancient Roman city in what is now Italy, at the head of the Adriatic at the edge of the lagoons, about 10 km from the sea, on the river Natiso , the course of which has changed somewhat since Roman times...

 has survived in the later medieval church. This mosaic adopts pagan motifs such as the Nilotic scene, but behind the traditional naturalistic content is Christian symbolism such as the ichthys
Ichthys
Ichthys, from Koine Greek: , is the Greek word for "fish"....

. The 6th-century early Christian basilicas of Sant' Eufemia :it:Basilica di Sant'Eufemia (Grado)  and Santa Maria delle Grazie in Grado
Grado, Italy
Grado is a town and comune in the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located on a peninsula of the Adriatic Sea between Venice and Trieste....

 also have mosaic floors.

Ravenna


In the 5th century Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, the capital of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, became the center of late Roman mosaic art. The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is a Roman building in Ravenna, Italy. It was listed with seven other structures in Ravenna in the World Heritage List in 1996...

 was decorated with mosaics of high artistic quality in 425-430. The vaults of the small, cross-shaped structure are clad with mosaics on blue background. The central motif above the crossing is a golden cross in the middle of the stary sky. Another great building established by Galla Placidia
Galla Placidia
Aelia Galla Placidia , daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, was the Regent for Emperor Valentinian III from 423 until his majority in 437, and a major force in Roman politics for most of her life...

 was the Church of San Giovanni Evangelista. She erected it in fulfillment of a vow that she made having escaped from a deadly storm in 425 on the sea voyage from Constantinople to Ravenna. The mosaics depicted the storm, portraits of members of the western and eastern imperial family and the bishop of Ravenna, Peter Chrysologus
Peter Chrysologus
Peter Chrysologus was Bishop of Ravenna from about AD 433 until his death. He is revered as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIII in 1729.-Life:...

. They are only known from Renaissance sources because they were destroyed in 1569.

Ostrogoths kept alive the tradition in the 6th century, as the mosaics of the Arian Baptistry
Arian Baptistry
The Arian Baptistry in Ravenna, Italy was erected by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great between the end of the 5th century and the beginning of the sixth century, at the same time as the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo....

, Baptistry of Neon
Baptistry of Neon
The Baptistry of Neon is a religious building in Ravenna, central Italy. The most ancient monument remaining in the city, it was partly erected on the site of a Roman bath...

, Archiepiscopal Chapel
Archiepiscopal Chapel
The Archbishop's Chapel is a chapel on the first floor of the bishops' palace in Ravenna, Italy, the smallest of the famous mosaic sites of the city. It is a private oratory of Trinitarian bishops dating from the turn of the 6th century. Although commonly attributed to St...

, and the earlier phase mosaics in the Basilica of San Vitale
Basilica of San Vitale
The Church of San Vitale — styled an "ecclesiastical basilica" in the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not of architectural basilica form — is a church in Ravenna, Italy, one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine Art and architecture in western Europe...

 and Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo
The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo is a basilica church in Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna . It was erected by the Ostrogoth King Theodoric as his palace chapel, during the first quarter of the 6th century...

 testify.

After 539 Ravenna was conquered by the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and became the seat of the Exarchate of Ravenna
Exarchate of Ravenna
The Exarchate of Ravenna or of Italy was a centre of Byzantine power in Italy, from the end of the 6th century to 751, when the last exarch was put to death by the Lombards.-Introduction:...

. The greatest development of Christian mosaics unfolded in the second half of the 6th century. Outstanding examples of Byzantine mosaic art are the later phase mosaics in the Basilica of San Vitale
Basilica of San Vitale
The Church of San Vitale — styled an "ecclesiastical basilica" in the Roman Catholic Church, though it is not of architectural basilica form — is a church in Ravenna, Italy, one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine Art and architecture in western Europe...

 and Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo
The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo is a basilica church in Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna . It was erected by the Ostrogoth King Theodoric as his palace chapel, during the first quarter of the 6th century...

. The mosaic depicting Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 and Empress Theodora
Theodora (6th century)
Theodora , was empress of the Roman Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Like her husband, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14...

 in the Basilica of San Vitale were executed shortly after the Byzantine conquest. The mosaics of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe
The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare in Classe is an important monument of Byzantine art near Ravenna, Italy. When the UNESCO inscribed eight Ravenna sites on the World Heritage List, it cited this basilica as "an outstanding example of the early Christian basilica in its purity and simplicity of its...

 were made around 549. The anti-Arian theme is obvious in the apse mosaic of San Michele in Affricisco, executed in 545-547 (largely destroyed, the remains in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

).

The last example of Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna was commissioned by bishop Reparatus between 673-79 in the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe
The Basilica of Sant' Apollinare in Classe is an important monument of Byzantine art near Ravenna, Italy. When the UNESCO inscribed eight Ravenna sites on the World Heritage List, it cited this basilica as "an outstanding example of the early Christian basilica in its purity and simplicity of its...

. The mosaic panel in the apse showing the bishop with Emperor Constantine IV
Constantine IV
Constantine IV , , sometimes incorrectly called Pogonatos, "the Bearded", by confusion with his father; was Byzantine emperor from 668 to 685...

 is obviously an imitation of the Justinian panel in San Vitale.

Butrint


The mosaic pavement of the Vrina Plain basilica of Butrint
Butrint
Butrint was an ancient Greek and later Roman city in Epirus. In modern times it is an archeological site in Sarandë District, Albania, some 14 kilometres south of Sarandë and close to the Greek border. It was known in antiquity as Βουθρωτόν Bouthroton or Βουθρώτιος Bouthrotios in Ancient Greek...

, Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 appear to pre-date that of the Baptistery by almost a generation, dating to the last quarter of the 5th or the first years of the 6th century. The mosaic displays a variety of motifs including sea-creatures, birds, terrestrial beasts, fruits, flowers, trees and abstracts – designed to depict a terrestrial paradise of God’s creation. Superimposed on this scheme are two large tablets, tabulae ansatae, carrying inscriptions. A variety of fish, a crab, a lobster, shrimps, mushrooms, flowers, a stag and two cruciform designs surround the smaller of the two inscriptions, which reads: In fulfilment of the vow (prayer) of those whose names God knows. This anonymous dedicatory inscription is a public demonstration of the benefactors’ humility and an acknowledgement of God’s omniscience.

The abundant variety of natural life depicted in the Butrint mosaics celebrates the richness of God’s creation; some elements also have specific connotations. The kantharos
Kantharos
A kantharos or cantharus is a type of Greek pottery used for drinking. It is characterized by its high swung handles which extend above the lip of the pot.The god Dionysus had a kantharos which was never empty....

 vase and vine refer to the eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

, the symbol of the sacrifice of Christ leading to salvation. Peacocks are symbols of paradise and resurrection; shown eating or drinking from the vase they indicate the route to eternal life. Deer or stags were commonly used as images of the faithful aspiring to Christ: ‘like a hart desires the water brook, so my souls longs for thee, O God.’ Water-birds and fish and other sea-creatures can indicate baptism as well as the members of the Church who are christened.

Butrint is a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

.

Late Antique and Early Medieval Rome



Christian mosaic art also flourished in Rome, gradually declining as conditions became more difficult in the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

. 5th-century mosaics can be found over the triumphal arch and in the nave of the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The 27 surviving panels of the nave are the most important mosaic cycle in Rome of this period. Two other important 5th-century mosaics are lost but we know them from 17th-century drawings. In the apse mosaic of Sant'Agata dei Goti
Sant'Agata dei Goti
Sant'Agata dei Goti is a church in Rome, Italy, dedicated to the martyr Saint Agatha. It is currently the titular church assigned to Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, currently Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.-History:...

 (462-472, destroyed in 1589) Christ was seated on a globe with the twelve Apostles flanking him, six on either side. At Sant'Andrea in Catabarbara (468-483, destroyed in 1686) Christ appeared in the center, flanked on either side by three Apostles. Four streams flowed from the little mountain supporting Christ. The original 5th-century apse mosaic of the Santa Sabina
Santa Sabina
The Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine is a titular minor basilica and mother church of the Roman Catholic Dominican order in Rome, Italy. Santa Sabina lies high on the Aventine Hill, beside the Tiber, close to the headquarters of theKnights of Malta....

 was replaced by a very similar fresco by Taddeo Zuccari
Taddeo Zuccari
Taddeo Zuccari was an Italian painter, one of the most popular members of the Roman mannerist school.-Biography:...

 in 1559. The composition probably remained unchanged: Christ flanked by male and female saints, seated on a hill while lambs drinking from a stream at its feet. All three mosaics had a similar iconography.

6th-century pieces are rare in Rome but the mosaics inside the triumphal arch of the basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le mura
San Lorenzo fuori le Mura
The Papal Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside the Walls is a Roman Catholic parish church and minor basilica, located in Rome, Italy. The basilica is one of the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome and one of the five Patriarchal basilicas, each of which is assigned to a patriarchate. St...

 belong to this era. The Chapel of Ss. Primo e Feliciano in Santo Stefano Rotondo
Santo Stefano Rotondo
The Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round on the Celian Hill is an ancient basilica and titular church in Rome, Italy. Commonly named Santo Stefano Rotondo, the church is the National church in Rome of Hungary dedicated to Saint Stephen and Saint Stephen of Hungary...

 has very interesting and rare mosaics from the 7th century. This chapel was built by Pope Theodore I
Pope Theodore I
Pope Theodore I , who was pope from November 24, 642, to May 14, 649, is considered a Greek, but was born in Jerusalem. He was made a cardinal deacon, and a full cardinal by Pope John IV....

 as a family burial place.

In the 7th-9th centuries Rome fell under the influence of Byzantine art, noticeable on the mosaics of Santa Prassede
Santa Prassede
The Basilica of Saint Praxedes , commonly known in Italian as Santa Prassede, is an ancient titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy, located near the papal basilica of Saint Mary Major...

, Santa Maria in Domnica
Santa Maria in Domnica
Santa Maria in Domnica — also known as Santa Maria alla Navicella — is a basilica church in Rome.-History:The church was built in ancient times, close to the Vigiles 5th cohort's barracks. The church was built no later than the 7th century...

, Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura
Sant'Agnese fuori le mura
The church of Saint Agnes Outside the Wall is a titulus church, minor basilica in Rome, on a site sloping down from the Via Nomentana, which runs north-east out of the city, still under its ancient name. What is said to be the remains of Saint Agnes's are below the high altar...

, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is a 5th century church in Rome, Italy, devoted to Saint Cecilia, in the Trastevere rione.-History:The first church on this site was founded probably in the 3rd century, by Pope Urban I; it was devoted to the Roman martyr Cecilia, martyred it is said under Marcus...

, Santi Nereo e Achilleo
Santi Nereo e Achilleo
Santi Nereo e Achilleo is a fourth-century basilica church in Rome, Italy, located in via delle Termi di Caracalla in the rione Celio facing the main entrance to the Baths of Caracalla. The current Cardinal Priest of the Titulus Ss...

 and the San Venanzio chapel of San Giovanni in Laterano. The great dining hall of Pope Leo III
Pope Leo III
Pope Saint Leo III was Pope from 795 to his death in 816. Protected by Charlemagne from his enemies in Rome, he subsequently strengthened Charlemagne's position by crowning him as Roman Emperor....

 in the Lateran Palace
Lateran Palace
The Lateran Palace , formally the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran , is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main Papal residence....

 was also decorated with mosaics. They were all destroyed later except for one example, the so-called Triclinio Leoniano of which a copy was made in the 18th century. Another great work of Pope Leo, the apse mosaic of Santa Susanna
Santa Susanna
The Church of Saint Susanna at the baths of Diocletian is a Roman Catholic parish church on the Quirinal Hill in Rome, with a titulus associated to its site that dates back to about 280...

, depicted Christ with the Pope and Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 on one side, and SS. Susanna and Felicity on the other. It was plastered over during a renovation in 1585. Pope Paschal I (817-824) embellished the church of Santo Stefano del Cacco
Santo Stefano del Cacco
Santo Stefano de Pinea or more commonly Santo Stefano del Cacco is a church in Rome dedicated to Saint Stephen, located at Via di Santo Stefano del Cacco 26.-Name:...

 with an apsidal mosaic which depicted the pope with a model of the church (destroyed in 1607).

The fragment of an 8th-century mosaic, the Epiphany is one of the very rare remaining pieces of the medieval decoration of Old St. Peter's Basilica, demolished in the late 16th century. The precious fragment is kept in the sacristy of Santa Maria in Cosmedin
Santa Maria in Cosmedin
The Basilica of Saint Mary in Cosmedin is a minor basilica church in Rome, Italy. It is located in the rione of Ripa.- History :The church was built in the 8th century during the Byzantine Papacy over the remains of the Templum Herculis Pompeiani in the Forum Boarium and of the Statio annonae, one...

. It proves the high artistic quality of the destroyed St. Peter's mosaics.

Byzantine mosaics



Mosaics were more central to Byzantine culture than to that of Western Europe. Byzantine church interiors were generally covered with golden mosaics. Mosaic art flourished in the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 from the 6th to the 15th centuries. The majority of Byzantine mosaics were destroyed without trace during wars and conquests, but the surviving remains still form a fine collection.

The great buildings of Emperor Justinian
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 like the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, the Nea Church
Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos
The Nea Ekklesia of the Theotokos was a Byzantine church erected by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in Jerusalem. The church was completed in 543 and destroyed by an earthquake in 746...

 in Jerusalem and the rebuilt Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and thus it is considered sacred by Christians...

 in Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 were certainly embellished with mosaics but none of these survived.

Important fragments survived from the mosaic floor of the Great Palace of Constantinople
Great Palace of Constantinople
The Great Palace of Constantinople — also known as the Sacred Palace — was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as "Old Istanbul", modern Turkey...

 which was commissioned during Justinian's reign. The figures, animals, plants all are entirely classical but they are scattered before a plain background. The portrait of a moustached man, probably a Gothic chieftain, is considered the most important surviving mosaic of the Justinianian age. The so-called small sekreton of the palace was built during Justin II
Justin II
Justin II was Byzantine Emperor from 565 to 578. He was the husband of Sophia, nephew of Justinian I and the late Empress Theodora, and was therefore a member of the Justinian Dynasty. His reign is marked by war with Persia and the loss of the greater part of Italy...

's reign around 565-577. Some fragments survive from the mosaics of this vaulted room. The vine scroll motifs are very similar to those in the Santa Constanza and they still closely follow the Classical tradition. There are remains of floral decoration in the Church of the Acheiropoietos
Church of the Acheiropoietos
The Church of the Acheiropoietos is a 5th-century Byzantine church in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. It is located in the city's centre, at Agias Sofias street opposite Makedonomachon square.-History and description:...

 in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 (5th-6th centuries).


In the 6th century, Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, the capital of Byzantine Italy, became the center of mosaic making. Istria
Istria
Istria , formerly Histria , is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula is located at the head of the Adriatic between the Gulf of Trieste and the Bay of Kvarner...

 also boasts some important examples from this era. The Euphrasian Basilica
Euphrasian Basilica
The Euphrasian Basilica is a basilica in Poreč, Croatia. The episcopal complex, including, apart the basilica itself, a sacristy, a baptistery and the bell tower of the nearby archbishop's palace, is one of the best examples of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region.The...

 in Parentium
Porec
Poreč is a town and municipality on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, in Istria County, Croatia. Its major landmark is the 6th century Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997....

 was built in the middle of the 6th century and decorated with mosaics depicting the Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 flanked by angels and saints.

Fragments remain from the mosaics of the Church of Santa Maria Formosa in Pola
Pula
Pula is the largest city in Istria County, Croatia, situated at the southern tip of the Istria peninsula, with a population of 62,080 .Like the rest of the region, it is known for its mild climate, smooth sea, and unspoiled nature. The city has a long tradition of winemaking, fishing,...

. These pieces were made during the 6th century by artists from Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. Their pure Byzantine style is different from the contemporary Ravennate mosaics.

Very few early Byzantine mosaics survived the Iconoclastic
Iconoclasm
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols or monuments, usually with religious or political motives. It is a frequent component of major political or religious changes...

 destruction of the 8th century. Among the rare examples are the 6th-century Christ in majesty (or Ezekiel's Vision) mosaic in the apse of the Osios David Church in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 that was hidden behind mortar during those dangerous times. The mosaics of the Hagios Demetrios Church, which were made between 634 and 730, also escaped destruction. Unusually almost all represent Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki
Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki
Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki was a Christian martyr, who lived in the early 4th century.During the Middle Ages, he came to be revered as one of the most important Orthodox military saints, often paired with Saint George...

, often with suppliants before him.

In the Iconoclastic era, figural mosaics were also condemned as idolatry. The Iconoclastic churches were embellished with plain gold mosaics with only one great cross in the apse like the Hagia Irene
Hagia Irene
Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene , often erroneously rendered in English as St Irene, is a former Eastern Orthodox church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. It is open as a museum every day except Monday but requires special permission for admission.-Church:The...

 in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 (after 740). There were similar crosses in the apses of the Hagia Sophia Church
Hagia Sophia (Thessaloniki)
The Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece, is one of the oldest churches in that city still standing today. It is one of several monuments in Thessaloniki included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list.-History:...

 in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 and in the Church of the Dormition in Nicaea
Iznik
İznik is a city in Turkey which is primarily known as the site of the First and Second Councils of Nicaea, the first and seventh Ecumenical councils in the early history of the Church, the Nicene Creed, and as the capital city of the Empire of Nicaea...

. The crosses were substituted with the image of the Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 in both churches after the victory of the Iconodules
Iconodules
An iconodule is someone who espouses iconodulism, i.e. who supports or is in favor of religious images or icons and their veneration, and is in opposition to an iconoclast, someone against the use of religious images...

 (787-797 and in 8th-9th centuries respectively, the Dormition church was totally destroyed in 1922).

A similar Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 image flanked by two archangels were made for the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in 867. The dedication inscription says: "The images which the impostors had cast down here pious emperors have again set up." In the 870s the so-called large sekreton of the Great Palace of Constantinople
Great Palace of Constantinople
The Great Palace of Constantinople — also known as the Sacred Palace — was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as "Old Istanbul", modern Turkey...

 was decorated with the images of the four great iconodule patriarchs.

The post-Iconoclastic era was the heyday of Byzantine art with the most beautiful mosaics executed. The mosaics of the Macedonian Renaissance
Macedonian Renaissance
Macedonian Renaissance is a label sometimes used to describe the period of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire , especially the 10th century, which some scholars have seen as a time of increased interest in classical scholarship and the assimilation of classical motifs into Christian...

 (867-1056) carefully mingled traditionalism with innovation. Constantinopolitan mosaics of this age followed the decoration scheme first used in Emperor Basil I
Basil I
Basil I, called the Macedonian was a Byzantine emperor of probable Armenian descent who reigned from 867 to 886. Born a simple peasant in the Byzantine theme of Macedonia, he rose in the imperial court, and usurped the imperial throne from Emperor Michael III...

's Nea Ekklesia
Nea Ekklesia
The Nea Ekklēsia was a church built by Byzantine Emperor Basil I the Macedonian in Constantinople between the years 876–80. It was the first monumental church built in the Byzantine capital after the Hagia Sophia in the 6th century, and marks the beginning of middle period of Byzantine...

. Not only this prototype was later totally destroyed but each surviving composition is battered so it is necessary to move from church to church to reconstruct the system.

An interesting set of Macedonian-era mosaics make up the decoration of the Hosios Loukas
Hosios Loukas
Hosios Loukas is an historic walled monastery situated near the town of Distomo, in Boeotia, Greece. It is one of the most important monuments of Middle Byzantine architecture and art, and has been listed on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, along with the monasteries of Nea Moni and Daphnion.-...

 Monastery. In the narthex there is the Crucifixion, the Pantokrator and the Anastasis above the doors, while in the church the Theotokos (apse), Pentecost, scenes from Christ's life and ermit St Loukas (all executed before 1048). The scenes are treated with a minimum of detail and the panels are dominated with the gold setting.

The Nea Moni Monastery on Chios
Chios
Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, seven kilometres off the Asia Minor coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island is noted for its strong merchant shipping community, its unique mastic gum and its medieval villages...

 was established by Constantine Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos, Latinized as Constantine IX Monomachus , c. 1000 – January 11, 1055, reigned as Byzantine emperor from June 11, 1042 to January 11, 1055. He had been chosen by the Empress Zoe as a husband and co-emperor in 1042, although he had been exiled for conspiring...

 in 1043-1056. The exceptional mosaic decoration of the dome showing probably the nine orders of the angels was destroyed in 1822 but other panels survived (Theotokos with raised hands, four evangelists with seraphim, scenes from Christ's life and an interesting Anastasis where King Salomon bears resemblance to Constantine Monomachos). In comparison with Osios Loukas Nea Moni mosaics contain more figures, detail, landscape and setting.

Another great undertaking by Constantine Monomachos was the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan....

 in Jerusalem between 1042 and 1048. Nothing survived of the mosaics which covered the walls and the dome of the edifice but the Russian abbot Daniel, who visited Jerusalem in 1106-1107 left a description: "Lively mosaics of the holy prophets are under the ceiling, over the tribune. The altar is surmounted by a mosaic image of Christ. In the main altar one can see the mosaic of the Exhaltation of Adam. In the apse the Ascension of Christ. The Annunciation occupies the two pillars next to the altar."

The Daphni Monastery
Daphni Monastery
Dafní or Daphní is a monastery 11 km north-west of downtown Athens in Chaidari, south of Athinon Avenue . It is situated near the forest of the same name, on the Sacred Way that led to Eleusis...

 houses the best preserved complex of mosaics from the early Comnenan period (ca. 1100) when the austere and hieratic manner typical for the Macedonian epoch
Macedonian dynasty
The Macedonian dynasty ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1056, following the Amorian dynasty. During this period, the Byzantine state reached its greatest expanse since the Muslim conquests, and the Macedonian Renaissance in letters and arts began. The dynasty was named after its founder,...

 and represented by the awesome Christ Pantocrator
Christ Pantocrator
In Christian iconography, Christ Pantokrator refers to a specific depiction of Christ. Pantocrator or Pantokrator is a translation of one of many Names of God in Judaism...

 image inside the dome, was metamorphosing into a more intimate and delicate style, of which The Angel before St Joachim — with its pastoral backdrop, harmonious gestures and pensive lyricism — is considered a superb example.

The 9th and 10th-century mosaics of the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 are truly classical Byzantine artworks. The north and south tympana beneath the dome was decorated with figures of prophets, saints and patriarchs. Above the principal door from the narthex we can see an Emperor kneeling before Christ (late 9th or early 10th century). Above the door from the southwest vestibule to the narthex another mosaic shows the Theotokos with Justinian and Constantine. Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 is offering the model of the church to Mary while Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 is holding a model of the city in his hand. Both emperors are beardless - this is an example for conscious archaization as contemporary Byzantine rulers were bearded. A mosaic panel on the gallery shows Christ with Constantine Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos, Latinized as Constantine IX Monomachus , c. 1000 – January 11, 1055, reigned as Byzantine emperor from June 11, 1042 to January 11, 1055. He had been chosen by the Empress Zoe as a husband and co-emperor in 1042, although he had been exiled for conspiring...

 and Empress Zoe
Zoe (empress)
Zoe reigned as Byzantine Empress alongside her sister Theodora from April 19 to June 11, 1042...

(1042–1055). The emperor gives a bulging money sack to Christ as a donation for the church.

The dome of the Hagia Sophia Church
Hagia Sophia (Thessaloniki)
The Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, Greece, is one of the oldest churches in that city still standing today. It is one of several monuments in Thessaloniki included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list.-History:...

 in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 is decorated with an Ascension mosaic (c. 885). The composition resembles the great baptistries in Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, with apostles standing between palms and Christ in the middle. The scheme is somewhat unusual as the standard post-Iconoclastic formula for domes contained only the image of the Pantokrator.

There are very few existing mosaics from the Komnenian period
Komnenos
Komnenós or Comnenus was the name of a ruling family of the Eastern Roman Empire , who halted the political decline of the Empire from c.1081 to c.1185.-Origins:...

 but this paucity must be due to accidents of survival and gives a misleading impression. The only surviving 12th-century mosaic work in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 is a panel in Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 depicting Emperor John II
John II Komnenos
John II Komnenos was Byzantine Emperor from 1118 to 1143. Also known as Kaloïōannēs , he was the eldest son of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina...

 and Empress Eirene
Piroska of Hungary
Saint Irene of Hungary, born Piroska, was a daughter of Ladislaus I of Hungary and Adelaide of Swabia. Her maternal grandparents were Rudolf of Rheinfeld and his second wife Adelheid of Savoy. Adelheid was a daughter of Otto of Savoy and Adelaide of Turin. She was the mother of the future emperor...

 with the Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 (1122–34). The empress with her long braided hair and rosy cheeks is especially capturing. It must be a life-like portrayal because Eirene was really a redhead as her original Hungarian name, Piroska shows. The adjacent portrait of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos, Latinized as Alexius I Comnenus , was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118, and although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. The title 'Nobilissimus' was given to senior army commanders,...

 on a pier (from 1122) is similarly personal. The imperial mausoleum of the Komnenos
Komnenos
Komnenós or Comnenus was the name of a ruling family of the Eastern Roman Empire , who halted the political decline of the Empire from c.1081 to c.1185.-Origins:...

 dynasty, the Pantokrator Monastery was certainly decorated with great mosaics but these were later destroyed. The lack of Komnenian mosaics outside the capital is even more apparent. There is only a "Communion of the Apostles" in the apse of the cathedral of Serres
Serres, Greece
Sérres is a city in Macedonia, Greece. It is situated in a fertile plain at an elevation of about 70 m, some 24 km northeast of the Strymon river and 69 km north-east of the Macedonian capital, Thessaloniki. The Rhodope Mountains rise to the north and east of the city...

.

A striking technical innovation of the Komnenian period was the production of very precious, miniature mosaic icons. In these icons the small tesserae (with sides of 1 mm or less) were set on wax or resin on a wooden panel. These products of extraordinary craftmanship were intended for private devotion. The Louvre Transfiguration is a very fine example from the late 12th century. The miniature mosaic of Christ in the Museo Nazionale at Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 illustrates the more gentle, humanistic conception of Christ which appeared in the 12th century.

The sack of Constantinople in 1204 caused the decline of mosaic art for the next five decades. After the reconquest of the city by Michael VIII Palaiologos
Michael VIII Palaiologos
Michael VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus reigned as Byzantine Emperor 1259–1282. Michael VIII was the founder of the Palaiologan dynasty that would rule the Byzantine Empire until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453...

 in 1261 the Hagia Sophia was restored and a beautiful new Deesis
Deesis
In Byzantine art, and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deësis or Deisis , is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator: enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and sometimes other saints and angels...

was made on the south gallery. This huge mosaic panel with figures two and a half times lifesize is really overwhelming due to its grand scale and superlative craftsmanship. The Hagia Sophia Deesis is probably the most famous Byzantine mosaic in Constantinople.

The Pammakaristos Monastery
Pammakaristos Church
Pammakaristos Church, also known as the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos , in 1591 converted into a mosque and known as Fethiye Mosque and today partly a museum, is one of the most famous Byzantine churches in Istanbul, Turkey...

 was restored by Michael Glabas
Michael Doukas Glabas Tarchaneiotes
Michael Doukas Glabas Tarchaneiotes or Michael Tarchaneiotes Glabas was a notable Byzantine aristocrat and general.- Life :He is first mentioned in ca. 1260, when he was assigned to capture the city of Mesembria on the Black Sea coast from the deposed Bulgarian tsar Mitso Asen...

, an imperial official, in the late 13th century. Only the mosaic decoration of the small burial chapel (parekklesion) of Glabas survived. This domed chapel was built by his widow, Martha around 1304-08. In the miniature dome the traditional Pantokrator can be seen with twelve prophets beneath. Unusually the apse is decorated with a Deesis
Deesis
In Byzantine art, and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deësis or Deisis , is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator: enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and sometimes other saints and angels...

, probably due to the funerary function of the chapel.

The Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles (Thessaloniki)
The Church of the Holy Apostles is a 14th-century Byzantine church in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.-Location:The church is located at the start of Olympou Street, near the city's western medieval walls.-History and description:...

 in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 was built in 1310-14. Although some vandal systematically removed the gold tesserae of the background it can be seen that the Pantokrator and the prophets in the dome follow the traditional Byzantine pattern. Many details are similar to the Pammakaristos mosaics so it is supposed that the same team of mosaicists worked in both buildings. Another building with a related mosaic decoration is the Theotokos Paregoritissa Church in Arta
Arta, Greece
Arta is a city with a rich history in northwestern Greece, capital of the peripheral unit of Arta, which is part of Epirus region. The city was known in ancient times as Ambracia . Arta is famous for its old bridge located over the Arachthos River, situated west of downtown...

. The church was established by the Despot of Epirus
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

 in 1294-96. In the dome is the traditional stern Pantokrator, with prophets and cherubim below.


The greatest mosaic work of the Palaeologan renaissance in art is the decoration of the Chora Church
Chora Church
The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of a Byzantine church. The church is situated in Istanbul, in the Edirnekapı neighborhood, which lies in the western part of the municipality of Fatih...

 in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. Although the mosaics of the naos have not survived except three panels, the decoration of the exonarthex and the esonarthex constitute the most important full-scale mosaic cycle in Constantinople after the Hagia Sophia. They were executed around 1320 by the command of Theodore Metochites
Theodore Metochites
Theodore Metochites was a Byzantine statesman, author, gentleman philosopher, and patron of the arts. From c. 1305 to 1328 he held the position of personal adviser to emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos.- Life :...

. The esonarthex has two fluted domes, specially created to provide the ideal setting for the mosaic images of the ancestors of Christ. The southern one is called the Dome of the Pantokrator while the northern one is the Dome of the Theotokos. The most important panel of the esonarthex depicts Theodore Metochites wearing a huge turban
Turban
In English, Turban refers to several types of headwear popularly worn in the Middle East, North Africa, Punjab, Jamaica and Southwest Asia. A commonly used synonym is Pagri, the Indian word for turban.-Styles:...

, offering the model of the church to Christ. The walls of both narthexes are decorated with mosaic cycles from the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ. These panels show the influence of the Italian trecento
Trecento
The Trecento refers to the 14th century in Italian cultural history.Commonly the Trecento is considered to be the beginning of the Renaissance in art history...

 on Byzantine art especially the more natural settings, landscapes, figures.

The last Byzantine mosaic work was created for the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

, Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in the middle of the 14th century. The great eastern arch of the cathedral collapsed in 1346, bringing down the third of the main dome. By 1355 not only the big Pantokrator image was restored but new mosaics were set on the eastern arch depicting the Theotokos, the Baptist and Emperor John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos was a Byzantine emperor, who succeeded his father in 1341, at age nine.-Biography:...

 (discovered only in 1989).

In addition to the large-scale monuments several miniature mosaic icons of outstanding quality was produced for the Palaiologos court and nobles. The loveliest examples from the 14th century are Annunciation in the Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum , set in the Brompton district of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, England, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects...

 and a mosaic diptych in the Cathedral Treasury of Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 representing the Twelve Feasts of the Church.

In the troubled years of the 15th century the fatally weakened empire could not afford luxurious mosaics. Churches were decorated with wall-paintings in this era and after the Turkish conquest
Fall of Constantinople
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which occurred after a siege by the Ottoman Empire, under the command of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, against the defending army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI...

.

Rome in the High Middle Ages



The last great period of Roman mosaic art was the 12-13th century when Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 developed its own distinctive artistic style, free from the strict rules of eastern tradition and with a more realistic portrayal of figures in the space. Well-known works of this period are the floral mosaics of the Basilica di San Clemente
Basilica di San Clemente
The Basilica of Saint Clement is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Pope Clement I located in Rome, Italy. Archaeologically speaking, the structure is a three-tiered complex of buildings: the present basilica built just before the year 1100 during the height of the Middle Ages; beneath...

, the façade of Santa Maria in Trastevere
Santa Maria in Trastevere
The Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere is a titular minor basilica, one of the oldest churches in Rome, and perhaps the first in which mass was openly celebrated...

 and San Paolo fuori le Mura. The beautiful apse mosaic of Santa Maria in Trastevere (1140) depicts Christ and Mary sitting next to each other on the heavenly throne, the first example of this iconographic scheme. A similar mosaic, the Coronation of the Virgin
Coronation of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art, especially popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove,...

, decorates the apse of Santa Maria Maggiore. It is a work of Jacopo Torriti
Jacopo Torriti
Jacopo Torriti or Turriti was an Italian painter and mosaic maker who lived in the 13th century.He worked in the decoration in San Giovanni in Laterano and Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Those in the Lateran were carried out in conjunction with the Franciscan monk, Jacopo Camerino...

 from 1295. The mosaics of Torriti and Jacopo da Camerino
Jacopo da Camerino
Jacopo da Camerino was an Italian artist and a Franciscan monk, who assisted Torrita with the mosaics for the church of San Giovanni in Laterano, is known to have worked from 1288 to 1321. His compositions are in a style similar to that of Cimabue.-References:...

 in the apse of San Giovanni in Laterano from 1288-94 were thoroughly restored in 1884. The apse mosaic of San Crisogono
San Crisogono
San Crisogono is a church in Rome dedicated to the martyr Saint Chrysogonus.-History:The church was one of the tituli, the first parish churches of Rome...

 is attributed to Pietro Cavallini
Pietro Cavallini
Pietro Cavallini was an Italian painter and mosaic designer working during the late Middle Ages. Little is known about his biography, though it is known he was from Rome, since he signed pictor romanus....

, the greatest Roman painter of the 13th century. Six scenes from the life of Mary in Santa Maria in Trastevere were also executed by Cavallini in 1290. These mosaics are praised for their realistic portrayal and attempts of perspective. There is an interesting mosaic medaillon from 1210 above the gate of the church of San Tommaso in Formis
San Tommaso in Formis
The church of San Tommaso in Formis is a small church in Rome, situated on the Caelian Hill.-History:Situated on the edge of Villa Celimontana and next to the Arch of Dolabella , a gate in the original Servian Wall, the church is dedicated to St. Thomas the Apostle...

 showing Christ enthroned between a white and a black slave. The church belonged to the Order of the Trinitarians which was devoted to ransoming Christian slaves.

The great Navicella
Navicella
Navicella is a genus of fungi in the family Massariaceae. "Navicella" is Italian for "small ship", and also found in English in reference to a mosaic by Giotto in St Peter's, Rome, now so often restored as to be effectively lost. In the 19th century the genus of molluscs now called Septaria were...

 mosaic (1305–1313) in the atrium of the Old St. Peter's is attributed to Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone , better known simply as Giotto, was an Italian painter and architect from Florence in the late Middle Ages...

. The giant mosaic, commissioned by Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi, was originally situated on the eastern porch of the old basilica and occupied the whole wall above the entrance arcade facing the courtyard. It depicted St. Peter walking on the waters. This extraordinary work was mainly destroyed during the construction of the new St. Peter's in the 17th century. Navicella means "little ship" referring to the large boat which dominated the scene, and whose sail, filled by the storm, loomed over the horizon. Such a natural representation of a seascape was known only from ancient works of art.

Sicily


The heyday of mosaic making in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 was the age of the independent Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 kingdom in the 12th century. The Norman kings adopted the Byzantine tradition of mosaic decoration to enhance the somewhat dubious legality of their rule. Greek masters working in Sicily developed their own style, that shows the influence of Western European and Islamic artistic tendencies. Best examples of Sicilian mosaic art are the Cappella Palatina
Cappella Palatina
The Palatine Chapel is the royal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily situated on the ground floor at the center of the Palazzo Reale in Palermo, southern Italy....

 of Roger II
Roger II of Sicily
Roger II was King of Sicily, son of Roger I of Sicily and successor to his brother Simon. He began his rule as Count of Sicily in 1105, later became Duke of Apulia and Calabria , then King of Sicily...

, the Martorana
Martorana
The Church of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio or San Nicolò dei Greci, commonly called the Martorana, overlooking the renowned Piazza Bellini in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy...

 church in Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale
Monreale
Monreale is a town and comune in the province of Palermo, in Sicily, Italy, on the slope of Monte Caputo, overlooking the very fertile valley called "La Conca d'oro" , famed for its orange, olive and almond trees, the produce of which is exported in large quantities...

.

The Cappella Palatina clearly shows evidence for blending the eastern and western styles. The dome (1142-42) and the eastern end of the church (1143–1154) were decorated with typical Byzantine mosaics i.e. Pantokrator, angels, scenes from the life of Christ. Even the inscriptions are written in Greek. The narrative scenes of the nave (Old Testament, life of Sts Peter and Paul) are resembling to the mosaics of the Old St. Peter's and St. Paul's Basilica in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 (Latin inscriptions, 1154–66).

The Martorana church (decorated around 1143) looked originally even more Byzantine although important parts were later demolished. The dome mosaic is very similar to that of the Cappella Palatina with Christ enthroned in the middle and four bowed, elongated angels. The Greek incsriptions, decorative patterns, the evangelists in the squinches are obviously executed by the same Greek masters who worked on Capella Palatina. The mosaic depicting Roger II of Sicily, dressed in Byzantine imperial robes, receiving the crown by Christ was originally in the demolished narthex together with another panel, the Theotokos with Georgios of Antiochia, the founder of the church.

In Cefalù
Cefalù
Cefalù is a city and comune in the province of Palermo, located on the northern coast of Sicily, Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea about 70 km east from the provincial capital and 185 km west of Messina...

 (1148) only the high, French Gothic presbytery was covered with mosaics: the Pantokrator on the semidome of the apse and cherubim on the vault. On the walls we can see Latin and Greek saints, with Greek inscriptions.

The Monreale
Monreale
Monreale is a town and comune in the province of Palermo, in Sicily, Italy, on the slope of Monte Caputo, overlooking the very fertile valley called "La Conca d'oro" , famed for its orange, olive and almond trees, the produce of which is exported in large quantities...

 mosaics constitute the largest decoration of this kind in Italy, covering 0,75 hectares with at least 100 million glass and stone tesserae. This huge work was executed between 1176 and 1186 by the order of King William II of Sicily
William II of Sicily
William II , called the Good, was king of Sicily from 1166 to 1189. William's character is very indistinct. Lacking in military enterprise, secluded and pleasure-loving, he seldom emerged from his palace life at Palermo. Yet his reign is marked by an ambitious foreign policy and a vigorous diplomacy...

. The iconography of the mosaics in the presbytery is similar to Cefalu while the pictures in the nave are almost the same as the narrative scenes in the Cappella Palatina. The Martorana mosaic of Roger II blessed by Christ was repeated with the figure of King William II instead of his predecessor. Another panel shows the king offering the model of the cathedral to the Theotokos.

The Cathedral of Palermo
Cathedral of Palermo
The Cathedral of Palermo is an architectural complex in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy. It is characterized by the presence of different styles, due to a long history of additions, alterations and restorations, the last of which occurred in the 18th century....

, rebuilt by Archbishop Walter in the same time (1172–85), was also decorated with mosaics but none of these survived except the 12th-century image of Madonna del Tocco above the western portal.

The cathedral of Messina, consecrated in 1197, was also decorated with a great mosaic cycle, originally on par with Cefalù and Monreale, but heavily damaged and restored many times later. In the left apse of the same cathedral 14th-century mosaics survived, representing the Madonna and Child between Saints Agata and Lucy, the Archangels Gabriel and Michael and Queens Eleonora and Elisabetta.

Southern Italy was also part of the Norman kingdom but great mosaics did not survive in this area except the fine mosaic pavement of the Otranto
Otranto
Otranto is a town and comune in the province of Lecce , in a fertile region once famous for its breed of horses.It is located on the east coast of the Salento peninsula. The Strait of Otranto, to which the city gives its name, connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and Italy with Albania...

 cathedral from 1166, with mosaics tied into a tree of life, mostly still preserved. The scenes depict biblical characters, warrior kings, medieval beasts, allegories of the months and working activity. Only fragments survived from the original mosaic decoration of Amalfi
Amalfi
Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, c. 35 km southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto , surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery...

's Norman Cathedral. The mosaic ambos in the churches of Ravello
Ravello
Ravello is a town and comune situated above the Amalfi Coast in the province of Salerno, Campania, southern Italy, with has approximately 2,500 inhabitants. It is a popular tourist destination.-History:...

 prove that mosaic art was widespread in Southern Italy during the 11th-13th centuries.

The palaces of the Norman kings were decorated with mosaics depicting animals and landscapes. The secular mosaics are seemingly more Eastern in character than the great religious cycles and show a strong Persian influence. The most notable examples are the Sala di Ruggero in the Palazzo dei Normanni
Palazzo dei Normanni
The Palazzo dei Normanni or Royal Palace of Palermo is a palace in Palermo, Italy. It was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and served afterwards as the main seat of power for the subsequent rulers of Sicily...

, Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

 and the Sala della Fontana in the Zisa
Zisa, Palermo
The Zisa is a castle in the western part of Palermo, Sicily.The construction was begun in the 12th century by Arabian craftsmen for king William I of Sicily, and completed by his son William II...

 summer palace, both from the 12th century.

Venice


In parts of Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, which were under eastern artistic influences, like Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 and Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, mosaic making never went out of fashion in the Middle Ages. The whole interior of the St Mark's Basilica
St Mark's Basilica
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture...

 in Venice is clad with elaborate, golden mosaics. The oldest scenes were executed by Greek masters in the late 11th century but the majority of the mosaics are works of local artists from the 12th-13th centuries. The decoration of the church was finished only in the 16th century. One hundred and ten scenes of mosaics in the atrium of St Mark's were based directly on the miniatures of the Cotton Genesis
Cotton Genesis
The Cotton Genesis is a 4th- or 5th-century Greek Illuminated manuscript copy of the Book of Genesis. It was a luxury manuscript with many miniatures. It is one of the oldest illustrated biblical codices to survive to the modern period...

, a Byzantine manuscript that was brought to Venice after the sack of Constantinople (1204). The mosaics were executed in the 1220s.

Other important Venetian mosaics can be found in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is a basilica church on the island of Torcello, Venice, northern Italy...

 in Torcello
Torcello
Torcello is a quiet and sparsely populated island at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon. It is considered the oldest continuously populated region of Venice, and once held the largest population of the Republic of Venice.-History:...

 from the 12th century, and in the Basilical of Santi Maria e Donato in Murano
Murano
Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It lies about 1.5 km north of Venice and measures about across with a population of just over 5,000 . It is famous for its glass making, particularly lampworking...

 with a restored apse mosaic from the 12th century and a beautiful mosaic pavement (1140). The apse of the San Cipriano Church in Murano was decorated with an impressive golden mosaic from the early 13th century showing Christ enthroned with Mary, St John and the two patron saints, Cipriano and Cipriana. When the church was demolished in the 19th century, the mosaic was bought by Frederick William IV of Prussia
Frederick William IV of Prussia
|align=right|Upon his accession, he toned down the reactionary policies enacted by his father, easing press censorship and promising to enact a constitution at some point, but he refused to enact a popular legislative assembly, preferring to work with the aristocracy through "united committees" of...

. It was reassembled in the Friedenskirche
Church of Peace (Sanssouci)
The Protestant Church of Peace is situated in the Marly Gardens on the Green Fence in the palace grounds of Sanssouci Park in Potsdam, Germany. The church was built according to the wishes and with the close involvement of the artistically gifted King Frederick William IV and designed by the court...

 of Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 in the 1840s.

Trieste
Trieste
Trieste is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land lying between the Adriatic Sea and Italy's border with Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city...

 was also an important center of mosaic art. The mosaics in the apse of the Cathedral of San Giusto were laid by master craftsmen from Veneto
Veneto
Veneto is one of the 20 regions of Italy. Its population is about 5 million, ranking 5th in Italy.Veneto had been for more than a millennium an independent state, the Republic of Venice, until it was eventually annexed by Italy in 1866 after brief Austrian and French rule...

 in the 12th-13th centuries.

Medieval Italy


The monastery of Grottaferrata
Grottaferrata
Grottaferrata, Italy is a small town and comune in the province of Rome, situated on the lower slopes of the Alban Hills, 20 km south east of Rome. It is bounded by other communes, Frascati, Rocca di Papa, Marino, and Rome.-History:...

 founded by Greek Basilian monks and consecrated by the Pope in 1024 was decorated with Italo-Byzantine mosaics, some of which survived in the narthex and the interior. The mosaics on the triumphal arch portray the Twelve Apostles sitting beside an empty throne, evoking Christ's ascent to Heaven. It is a Byzantine work of the 12th century. There is a beautiful 11th-century Deesis above the main portal.

The Abbot of Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino
Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about southeast of Rome, Italy, c. to the west of the town of Cassino and altitude. St. Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944...

, Desiderius
Pope Victor III
Pope Blessed Victor III , born Daufer , Latinised Dauferius, was the Pope as the successor of Pope Gregory VII, yet his pontificate is far less impressive in history than his time as Desiderius, the great Abbot of Monte Cassino.-Early life and abbacy:He was born in 1026 or 1027 of a non-regnant...

 sent envoys to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 some time after 1066 to hire expert Byzantine mosaicists for the decoration of the rebuilt abbey church. According to chronicler Leo of Ostia
Leo of Ostia
Leo Marsicanus or Ostiensis , also known as Leone dei Conti di Marsi , was a nobleman and monk of Monte Cassino around 1061 and Italian cardinal from the twelfth century.In Monte Cassino, he became a friend of Desiderius of Benevento, later Pope Victor III, and it was to him that Leo dedicated...

 the Greek artists decorated the apse, the arch and the vestibule of the basilica. Their work was admired by contemporaries but was totally destroyed in later centuries except two fragments depicting greyhounds (now in the Monte Cassino Museum). "The abbot in his wisdom decided that great number of young monks in the monastery should be thoroughly initiated in these arts" - says the chronicler about the role of the Greeks in the revival of mosaic art in medieval Italy.

In Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 a magnificiant mosaic of the Last Judgement decorates the dome of the Battistero
Battistero di San Giovanni (Florence)
The Florence Baptistry or Battistero di San Giovanni is a religious building in Florence , Italy, which has the status of a minor basilica....

. The earliest mosaics, works of art of many unknown Venetian craftsmen (including probably Cimabue
Cimabue
Cimabue , also known as Bencivieni di Pepo or in modern Italian, Benvenuto di Giuseppe, was an Italian painter and creator of mosaics from Florence....

), date from 1225. The covering of the ceiling was probably not completed until the 14th century.

The impressive mosaic of Christ in Majesty, flanked by the Blessed Virgin and St. John the Evangelist in the apse of the cathedral of Pisa was designed by Cimabue
Cimabue
Cimabue , also known as Bencivieni di Pepo or in modern Italian, Benvenuto di Giuseppe, was an Italian painter and creator of mosaics from Florence....

 in 1302. It evokes the Monreale mosaics in style. It survived the great fire of 1595 which destroyed most of the mediveval interior decoration.

Sometimes not only church interiors but façades were also decorated with mosaics in Italy like in the case of the St Mark's Basilica
St Mark's Basilica
The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, northern Italy. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture...

 in Venice (mainly from the 17th-19th centuries, but the oldest one from 1270–75, "The burial of St Mark in the first basilica"), the Cathedral of Orvieto
Duomo di Orvieto
The Cathedral of Orvieto is a large 14th century Roman Catholic cathedral situated in the town of Orvieto in Umbria, central Italy. The building was constructed under the orders of Pope Urban IV to commemorate and provide a suitable home for the Corporal of Bolsena, a miracle which is said to have...

 (golden Gothic mosaics from the 14th century, many times redone) and the Basilica di San Frediano
Basilica di San Frediano
The Basilica of San Frediano is a Romanesque church in Lucca, Italy, situated on the Piazza San Frediano.Fridianus was an Irish bishop of Lucca in the first half of the 6th century. He had a church built on this spot, dedicated to St. Vincent, a martyr from Zaragoza, Spain. When Fridianus was...

 in Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

 (huge, striking golden mosaic representing the Ascension of Christ with the apostles below, designed by Berlinghiero Berlinghieri
Berlinghiero Berlinghieri
Berlinghiero Berlinghieri, also known as Berlinghiero of Lucca, was an Italian painter of the early thirteenth century. He was the father of the painters Barone Berlinghieri, Bonaventura Berlinghieri, and Marco Berlinghieri...

 in the 13th century). The Cathedral of Spoleto
Cathedral of Spoleto
Spoleto Cathedral is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia created in 1821, previously that of the diocese of Spoleto, and the principal church of the Umbrian city of Spoleto, in Italy...

 is also decorated on the upper façade with a huge mosaic portraying the Blessing Christ (signed by one Solsternus from 1207).

Western and Central Europe


Beyond the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 the first important example of mosaic art was the decoration of the Palatine Chapel in Aachen
Palatine Chapel in Aachen
The Palatine Chapel is an Early Medieval chapel that is the remaining component of Charlemagne's Palace of Aachen. Although the palace no longer exists, the chapel has been incorporated into the Aachen Cathedral, Germany. It is the city's major landmark and the central monument of the Carolingian...

, commissioned by Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

. It was completely destroyed in a fire in 1650. A rare example of surviving Carolingian mosaics is the apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 semi-dome
Semi-dome
A semi-dome, also called a "half-dome", is the term in architecture for half a dome , used to cover a semi-circular area. Similar structures occur in nature.-Architecture:...

 decoration of the oratory of Germigny-des-Prés
Germigny-des-Prés
Germigny-des-Prés is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.-Carolingian architecture:The oratory at Germigny-des-Prés was built by Bishop Theodulf of Orléans in 806 as part of his palace complex within the Gallo-Roman villa in Germaniacus...

 built in 805-806 by Theodulf, bishop of Orléans, a leading figure of the Carolingian renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

. This unique work of art, rediscovered only in the 19th century, had no followers.

Only scant remains prove that mosaics were still used in the Early Middle Ages. The Abbey of Saint-Martial in Limoges
Limoges
Limoges |Limousin]] dialect of Occitan) is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and the administrative capital of the Limousin région in west-central France....

, originally an important place of pilgrimage, was totally demolished during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 except its crypt which was rediscovered in the 1960s. A mosaic panel was unearthed which was dated to the 9th century. It uses somewhat incongruously cubes of gilded glass and deep green marble, probably taken from antique pavements. This could also be the case with the early 9th century mosaic found under the cathedral of Saint-Quentin
Saint-Quentin, Aisne
Saint-Quentin is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France. It has been identified as the Augusta Veromanduorum of antiquity. It is named after Saint Quentin, who is said to have been martyred here in the 3rd century....

, where antique motifs are copied but using only simple colors. The mosaics in the Cathedral of Saint-Jean at Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

 have been dated to the 11th century because they employ the same non-antique simple colors. More fragments were found on the site of Saint-Croix at Poitiers
Poitiers
Poitiers is a city on the Clain river in west central France. It is a commune and the capital of the Vienne department and of the Poitou-Charentes region. The centre is picturesque and its streets are interesting for predominant remains of historical architecture, especially from the Romanesque...

 which might be from the 6th or 9th century.

Later fresco replaced the more labor-intensive technique of mosaic in Western-Europe, although mosaics were sometimes used as decoration on medieval cathedrals. The Royal Basilica of the Hungarian kings in Székesfehérvár
Székesfehérvár
Székesfehérvár is a city in central Hungary and is the 9th largest in the country. Located around southwest of Budapest. It is inhabited by 101,973 people , with 136,995 in the Székesfehérvár Subregion. The city is the centre of Fejér county and the regional centre of Central Transdanubia...

 (Alba Regia) had a mosaic decoration in the apse. It was probably a work of Venetian or Ravennese craftsmen, executed in the first decades of the 11th century. The mosaic was almost totally destroyed together with the basilica in the 17th century. The Golden Gate of the St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral
Saint Vitus' Cathedral is as a Roman Catholic cathedral in Prague, and the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. The full name of the cathedral is St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert Cathedral...

 in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 got its name from the golden 14th-century mosaic of the Last Judgement above the portal. It was executed by Venetian craftsmen.


The Crusaders
Crusaders
The Crusaders are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles...

 in the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 also adopted mosaic decoration under local Byzantine influence. During their 12th-century reconstruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan....

 in Jerusalem they complemented the existing Byzantine mosaics with new ones. Almost nothing of them survived except the "Ascension of Christ" in the Latin Chapel (now confusingly surrounded by many 20th-century mosaics). More substantial fragments were preserved from the 12th-century mosaic decoration of the Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and thus it is considered sacred by Christians...

 in Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

. The mosaics in the nave are arranged in five horizontal bands with the figures of the ancestors of Christ, Councils of the Church and angels. In the apses the Annunciation, the Nativity, Adoration of the Magi and Dormition of the Blessed Virgin can be seen. The program of redecoration of the church was completed in 1169 as a unique collaboration of the Byzantine emperor, the king of Jerusalem and the Latin Church.

In 2003, the remains of a mosaic pavement were discovered under the ruins of the Bizere Monastery
Frumuseni Mosaics
The Frumuşeni Mosaics are a set of millennium-old mosaics discovered in Romania at "Fântâna Turcului" , close to the locality of Frumuşeni, on the left bank of Mureş River, near the city of Arad...

 near the River Mureş
Mures
The name Mureș may refer to:*Mureș County in Romania*Mureș River in Romania and Hungary *Mures , a puzzle gameAlso, the following localities contain the name Mureș and lie on the banks of the river above....

 in present-day Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. The panels depict real or fantastic animal, floral, solar and geometric representations. Some archeologists supposed that it was the floor of an Orthodox church, built some time between the 10th and 11th century. Other experts claim that it was part of the later Catholic monastery on the site because it shows the signs of strong Italianate influence. The monastery was situated that time in the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

.

Renaissance and Baroque


Although mosaics went out of fashion and were substituted by frescoes, some of the great Renaissance artists also worked with the old technique. Raffael's Creation of the World
Creation of the World (Raphael)
Creation of the World is a mosaic in the dome of the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome, designed by Raphael.The Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo was designed by Raphael for his friend and patron, banker Agostino Chigi as a private chapel and family burial place...

 in the dome of the Chigi Chapel
Chigi Chapel
The Chigi Chapel is one of six chapels in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo, Rome. The Chigi chapel, the second on the left-hand side of the nave, was designed by Raphael as a private chapel for his friend and patron Sienese banker Agostino Chigi, then completed by Gian...

 in Santa Maria del Popolo
Santa Maria del Popolo
Santa Maria del Popolo is an Augustinian church located in Rome, Italy.It stands to the north side of the Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares in the city. The Piazza is situated between the ancient Porta Flaminia and the park of the Pincio...

 is a notable example that was executed by a Venetian craftsman, Luigi di Pace.

During the papacy of Clement VIII (1592–1605), the “Congregazione della Reverenda Fabbrica di San Pietro" was established, providing an independent organisation charged with completing the decorations in the newly-built St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

. Instead of frescoes the cavernous Basilica was mainly decorated with mosaics. Among the explanations are:
  1. The old St. Peter's Basilica had been decorated with mosaic, as was common in churches built during the early Christian era; the 17th century followed the tradition to enhance continuity.
  2. In a church like this with high walls and few windows, mosaics were brighter and reflected more light.
  3. Mosaics had greater intrinsic longevity than either frescoes or canvases.
  4. Mosaics had an association with bejeweled decoration, flaunting richness.


The mosaics of St. Peter's often show lively Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 compositions based on designs or canvases from like Ciro Ferri
Ciro Ferri
Ciro Ferri was an Italian Baroque sculptor and painter, the chief pupil and successor of Pietro da Cortona.He was born in Rome, where he began working under Cortona and with a team of artists in the extensive fresco decorations of the Quirinal Palace...

, Guido Reni
Guido Reni
Guido Reni was an Italian painter of high-Baroque style.-Biography:Born in Bologna into a family of musicians, Guido Reni was the son of Daniele Reni and Ginevra de’ Pozzi. As a child of nine, he was apprenticed under the Bolognese studio of Denis Calvaert. Soon after, he was joined in that...

, Domenichino, Carlo Maratta
Carlo Maratta
Carlo Maratta or Maratti was an Italian painter, active mostly in Rome, and known principally for his classicizing paintings executed in a Late Baroque Classical manner. Although he is part of the classical tradition stemming from Raphael, he was not exempt from the influence of Baroque painting...

, and many others. Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

 is represented by a mosaic replica of this last painting, the Transfiguration
Transfiguration (Raphael)
The Transfiguration is considered the last painting by the Italian High Renaissance master Raphael. It was left unfinished by Raphael, and is believed to have been completed by his pupil, Giulio Romano, shortly after Raphael's death in 1520...

. Many different artists contributed to the seventeenth- and 18th-century mosaics in St. Peter's, including Giovanni Battista Calandra
Giovanni Battista Calandra
Giovanni Battista Calandra was an Italian mosaic artist in the Vatican.He was born at Vercelli in 1568. In the pontificate of Urban VIII, it was found that the dampness of St...

, Fabio Cristofari
Fabio Cristofari
Fabio Cristofari was an Italian Baroque painter and mosaicist active in Rome. He was a member of the Academy of Saint Luke by 1658, and became the leading mosaicist in St. Peter's Basilica during the 1670s and 1680s...

 (d. 1689), and Pietro Paolo Cristofari
Pietro Paolo Cristofari
Pietro Paolo Cristofari was a late-Baroque Italian mosaicist active in Rome, and the son of Fabio Cristofari. In July 1627 he became the first director of the Vatican mosaic studio, responsible for dome for decorating the domes and altars in St. Peter's Basilica...

 (d. 1743). Works of the Fabbrica were often used as papal gifts.

The Christian East



The eastern provinces of the Eastern Roman and later the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

s inherited a strong artistic tradition from the Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

. Similarly to Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 churches and important secular buildings in Syria
Greater Syria
Greater Syria , also known simply as Syria, is a term that denotes a region in the Near East bordering the Eastern Mediterranean Sea or the Levant....

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 were decorated with elaborate mosaic panels between the 5th and 8th centuries. The great majority of these works of art were later destroyed but archeological excavations unearthed many surviving examples.

The single most important piece of Byzantine Christian mosaic art in the East is the Madaba Map
Madaba Map
The Madaba Map is part of a floor mosaic in the early Byzantine church of Saint George at Madaba, Jordan. The Madaba Map is a map of the Middle East. Part of it contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and especially Jerusalem...

, made between 542 and 570 as the floor of the church of Saint George at Madaba
Madaba
Madaba , is the capital city of Madaba Governorate of Jordan, which has a population of about 60,000. Madaba is the fifth most populous town in Jordan. It is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of The Holy Land...

, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. It was rediscovered in 1894. The Madaba Map is the oldest surviving cartographic depiction of the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

. It depicts an area from Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 in the north to the Nile Delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

 in the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 in the west to the Eastern Desert
Arabian Desert
The Arabian Desert is a vast desert wilderness stretching from Yemen to the Persian Gulf and Oman to Jordan and Iraq. It occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula, with an area of...

. The largest and most detailed element of the topographic depiction is Jerusalem, at the center of the map. The map is enriched with many naturalistic features, like animals, fishing boats, bridges and palm trees.

One of the earliest examples of Byzantine mosaic art in the region can be found on Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo (Jordan)
Mount Nebo is an elevated ridge that is approximately 817 meters above sea level, in what is now western Jordan. The view from the summit provides a panorama of the Holy Land and, to the north, a more limited one of the valley of the River Jordan...

, an important place of pilgrimage in the Byzantine era where Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 died. Among the many 6th-century mosaics in the church complex (discovered after 1933) the most interesting one is located in the baptistery. The intact floor mosaic covers an area of 9 x 3 m and was laid down in 530. It depicts hunting and pastoral scenes with rich Middle Eastern flora and fauna.

The Church of Sts. Lot and Procopius was founded in 567 in Nebo village under Mount Nebo (now Khirbet Mukhayyat). Its floor mosaic depicts everyday activities like grape harvest. Another two spectacular mosaics were discovered in the ruined Church of Preacher John nearby. One of the mosaics was placed above the other one which was completely covered and unknown until the modern restoration. The figures on the older mosaic have thus escaped the iconoclasts.

The town of Madaba
Madaba
Madaba , is the capital city of Madaba Governorate of Jordan, which has a population of about 60,000. Madaba is the fifth most populous town in Jordan. It is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of The Holy Land...

 remained an important center of mosaic making during the 5-8th centuries. In the Church of the Apostles the middle of the main panel Thalassa, goddess of the sea, can be seen surrounded by fishes and other sea creatures. Native Middle Eastern birds, mammals, plants and fruits were also added.


Important Justinian era mosaics decorated the Saint Catherine's Monastery
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
Saint Catherine's Monastery lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai in the city of Saint Catherine in Egypt's South Sinai Governorate. The monastery is Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

 on Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai , also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa , Jabal Musa meaning "Moses' Mountain", is a mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. A mountain called Mount Sinai is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah and the Bible as well as the Quran...

. Generally wall mosaics have not survived in the region because of the destruction of buildings but the St. Catherine's Monastery is exceptional. On the upper wall Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 is shown in two panels on a landscape background. In the apse we can see the Transfiguration of Jesus
Transfiguration of Jesus
The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported in the New Testament in which Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant upon a mountain. The Synoptic Gospels describe it, and 2 Peter 1:16-18 refers to it....

 on a golden background. The apse is surrounded with bands containing medallions of apostles and prophets, and two contemporary figure, "Abbot Longinos" and "John the Deacon". The mosaic was probably created in 565/6.

Jerusalem with its many holy places probably had the highest concentration of mosaic-covered churches but very few of them survived the subsequent waves of destructions. The present remains do not do justice to the original richness of the city. The most important is the so-called "Armenian Mosaic" which was discovered in 1894 on the Street of the Prophets
Street of the Prophets
Street of the Prophets is an east-west axis road in Jerusalem beginning outside Damascus Gate and ending at Davidka Square. Located to the north of Jaffa Road, it bisects the neighborhood of Musrara....

 near Damascus Gate
Damascus Gate
Damascus Gate is the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. It is located in the wall on the city's northwest side where the highway leads out to Nablus, and from there, in times past, to the capital of Syria, Damascus; as such, its modern English name is Damascus Gate, and its modern Hebrew...

. It depicts a vine with many branches and grape clusters, which springs from a vase. Populating the vine's branches are peacocks, ducks, storks, pigeons, an eagle, a partridge, and a parrot in a cage. The inscription reads: "For the memory and salvation of all those Armenians whose name the Lord knows." Beneath a corner of the mosaic is a small, natural cave which contained human bones dating to the 5th or 6th centuries. The symbolism of the mosaic and the presence of the burial cave indicates that the room was used as a mortuary chapel.

An exceptionally well-preserved, carpet-like mosaic floor was uncovered in 1949 in Bethany
Al-Eizariya
Al-Eizariya or al-Izzariya , sometimes referred to by its medieval name of Bethany, is a city in the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, it is the second largest Palestinian city in the Jerusalem Governorate , with a population of 17,606 inhabitants.Located on the...

, the early Byzantine church of the Lazarium which was built between 333 and 390. Because of its purely geometrical pattern, the church floor is to be grouped with other mosaics of the time in Palestine and neighboring areas, especially the Constantinian mosaics in the central nave at Bethlehem. A second church was built above the older one during the 6th century with another more simple geometric mosaic floor.


The monastic communities of the Judean Desert
Judean desert
The Judaean Desert is a desert in Israel and the West Bank that lies east of Jerusalem and descends to the Dead Sea. It stretches from the northeastern Negev to the east of Beit El, and is marked by terraces with escarpments. It ends in a steep escarpment dropping to the Dead Sea and the Jordan...

 also decorated their monasteries with mosaic floors. The Monastery of Martyrius
Monastery of Martyrius
The Monastery of Martyrius, now located in the center of the Israeli settlement and city of Ma'ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, was one of the most important centres of monastic life in the Judean Desert during the Byzantine period.-History:...

 was founded in the end of the 5th century and it was re-discovered in 1982-85. The most important work of art here is the intact geometric mosaic floor of the refectory although the severely damaged church floor was similarly rich. The mosaics in the church of the nearby Monastery of Euthymius are of later date (discovered in 1930). They were laid down in the Umayyad era, after a devastating earthquake in 659. Two six pointed stars and a red chalice are the most important surviving features.


Mosaic art also flourished in Christian Petra
Petra
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma'an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited...

 where three Byzantine churches were discovered. The most important one was uncovered in 1990. It is known that the walls were also covered with golden glass mosaics but only the floor panels survived as usual. The mosaic of the seasons in the southern aisle is from this first building period from the middle of the 5th century. In the first half of the 6th century the mosaics of the northern aisle and the eastern end of the southern aisle were installed. They depict native as well as exotic or mythological animals, and personifications of the Seasons, Ocean, Earth and Wisdom.

The Arab conquest of the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 in the 7th century did not break off the art of mosaic making. Arabs learned and accepted the craft as their own and carried on the classical tradition. During the Umayyad era Christianity retained its importance, churches were built and repaired and some of the most important mosaics of the Christian East were made during the 8th century when the region was under Islamic rule.

The mosaics of the Church of St Stephen in ancient Kastron Mefaa (now Umm ar-Rasas) were made in 785 (discovered after 1986). The perfectly preserved mosaic floor is the largest one in Jordan. On the central panel hunting and fishing scenes are depicted while another panel illustrates the most important cities of the region. The frame of the mosaic is especially decorative. Six mosaic masters signed the work: Staurachios from Esbus, Euremios, Elias, Constantinus, Germanus and Abdela. It overlays another, damaged, mosaic floor of the earlier (587) "Church of Bishop Sergius." Another four churches were excavated nearby with traces of mosaic decoration.

The last great mosaics in Madaba were made in 767 in the Church of the Virgin Mary (discovered in 1887). It is a masterpiece of the geometric style with a Greek inscription in the central medallion.

With the fall of the Umayyad dynasty in 750 the Middle East went through deep cultural changes. No great mosaics were made after the end of the 8th century and the majority of churches gradually fell into disrepair and were eventually destroyed. The tradition of mosaic making died out among the Christians and also in the Islamic community.

Orthodox countries


The craft has also been popular in early medieval Rus
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

, inherited as part of the Byzantine tradition. Yaroslav
Yaroslav I the Wise
Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Rus, known as Yaroslav the Wise (Old Norse: Jarizleifr; ; Old East Slavic and Russian: Ярослав Мудрый; Ukrainian: Ярослав Мудрий; c...

, the Grand Prince of the Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 built a large cathedral in his capital, Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

. The model of the church was the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, and it was also called Saint Sophia Cathedral
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is an outstanding architectural monument of Kievan Rus'. Today, it is one of the city's best known landmarks and the first Ukrainian patrimony to be inscribed on the World Heritage List along with the Kiev Cave Monastery complex...

. It was built mainly by Byzantine master craftsmen, sent by Constantine Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos, Latinized as Constantine IX Monomachus , c. 1000 – January 11, 1055, reigned as Byzantine emperor from June 11, 1042 to January 11, 1055. He had been chosen by the Empress Zoe as a husband and co-emperor in 1042, although he had been exiled for conspiring...

, between 1037 and 1046. Naturally the more important surfaces in the interior were decorated with golden mosaics. In the dome we can see the traditional stern Pantokrator supported by angels. Between the 12 windows of the drum were apostles and the four evangelists on the pendentives. The apse is dominated by an orant Theotokos
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

 with a Deesis
Deesis
In Byzantine art, and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deësis or Deisis , is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator: enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and sometimes other saints and angels...

 in three medallions above. Below is a Communion of the Apostles.

Prince Sviatopolk II
Sviatopolk II of Kiev
Sviatopolk II Iziaslavich was supreme ruler of the Kievan Rus for 20 years, from 1093 to 1113. He was not a popular prince, and his reign was marked by incessant rivalry with his cousin Vladimir Monomakh...

 built St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery
St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery
St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery is a functioning monastery in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The monastery is located on the right bank of the Dnieper River on the edge of a bluff northeast of the Saint Sophia Cathedral...

 in Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

 in 1108. The mosaics of the church are undoubtedly works of Byzantine artists. Although the church was destroyed by Soviet authorities, majority of the panels were preserved. Small parts of ornamental mosaic decoration from the 12th century survived in the Saint Sophia Cathedral
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod
The Cathedral of St. Sophia in the Kremlin in Veliky Novgorod is the cathedral church of the Archbishop of Novgorod and the mother church of the Novgorodian Eparchy.-History:...

 in Novgorod but this church was largely decorated with frescoes.

Mosaics stopped being used for church decoration as early as the 12th century in the eastern Slavic countries. Later Russian churches were decorated with frescoes, similarly than orthodox churches in the Balkan.

The apse mosaic of the Gelati Monastery
Gelati Monastery
The Monastery of Gelati is a monastic complex near Kutaisi, Imereti, western Georgia. It contains the Church of the Virgin founded by the King of Georgia David the Builder in 1106, and the 13th-century churches of St George and St Nicholas....

 in Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 from c. 1130 is probably the work of Byzantine mosaicist invited by King Demetre I
Demetre I
Demetrius I , from the Bagrationi dynasty, was King of Georgia from 1125 to 1156. He is also known as a poet.-Life:Demetrius was the eldest son of King David the Builder by his first wife Rusudan...

. The fragmentary panel depicting the Theotokos flanked by two archangels looks thoroughly Byzantine (with Greek inscriptions). The use of mosaic in Gelati was a demonstration of the imperial ambition of the Bagrationids. The mosaic covered church could competed in magnificence with the churches of Constantinople. Gelati is the only monumental mosaic which survived in Georgia but fragments prove that the early churches of Pitsunda és Tsromi were also decorated with mosaic as well as other, lesser known sites. The destroyed 6th century mosaic floors in the Pitsunda Cathedral
Pitsunda Cathedral
Pitsunda Cathedral is a Georgian Orthodox Cathedral located in Pitsunda, in the Gagra district of the de facto independent Republic of Abkhazia, internationally recognised to constitute a part of Georgia...

 have been inspired by Roman prototypes. In Tsromi the tesserae are still visible on the walls of the 7th century church but only faint lines hint about the original scheme. Its central figure was Christ standing and displaying a scroll with Georgian text.

Jewish mosaics



Under Roman and Byzantine influence Jews also decorated their synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s with classical floor mosaics. Many interesting examples were discovered in Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 and the Judean Desert
Judean desert
The Judaean Desert is a desert in Israel and the West Bank that lies east of Jerusalem and descends to the Dead Sea. It stretches from the northeastern Negev to the east of Beit El, and is marked by terraces with escarpments. It ends in a steep escarpment dropping to the Dead Sea and the Jordan...

.

The remains of a 6th-century synagogue have been uncovered in Sepphoris, which was an important centre of Jewish culture between the 3rd-7th centuries and a multicultural town inhabited by Jews, Christians and pagans. The mosaic reflects an interesting fusion of Jewish and pagan beliefs. In the center of the floor the zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

 wheel was depicted. Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

 sits in the middle, in his sun chariot, and each zodiac
Zodiac
In astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude which are centred upon the ecliptic: the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year...

 is matched with a Jewish month
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

. Along the sides of the mosaic are strips depicting Biblical scenes, such as the binding of Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

, as well as traditional rituals, including a burnt sacrifice and the offering of fruits and grains.

Another zodiac mosaic decorated the floor of the Beit Alfa
Beit Alfa
Beit Alfa is a kibbutz in the Northern District of Israel, near the Gilboa ridge.-History:The kibbutz was founded in 1922 by Hashomer Hatzair volunteers. The first members came from Poland. In 1940 some of the members, affiliated with Hashomer Hatzair, moved to Ramat Yohanan kibbutz, in exchange...

 synagogue which was built during the reign of Justin I
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

 (518-27). It is regarded one of the most important mosaics discovered in Israel. Each of its three panels depicts a scene - the Holy Ark, the zodiac, and the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. In the center of the zodiac is Helios
Helios
Helios was the personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. Homer often calls him simply Titan or Hyperion, while Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn separate him as a son of the Titans Hyperion and Theia or Euryphaessa and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn...

, the sun god, in his chariot. The four women in the corners of the mosaic represent the four seasons.

A third superbly preserved zodiac mosaic was discovered in the Severus synagogue in the ancient resort town of Hammat Tiberias. In the center of the 4th century mosaic the Sun god, Helios sits in his chariot holding the celestial sphere and a whip. Nine of the 12 signs of the zodiac survived intact. Another panel shows the Ark of Covenant and Jewish cultic objects used in the Temple at Jerusalem.

In 1936 a synagogue was excavated in Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 which was named Shalom Al Israel synagogue
Shalom Al Israel synagogue
The Shalom Al Yisrael Synagogue, , dates to the late 6th or early 7th century CE and was discovered in Jericho in 1936.-History:...

 after an inscription on its mosaic floor ("Peace on Israel"). It appears to have been in use from the 5th to 8th centuries and contained a big mosaic on the floor with drawings of the Ark of the Covenant
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

, the Menorah, a Shofar
Shofar
A shofar is a horn, traditionally that of a ram, used for Jewish religious purposes. Shofar-blowing is incorporated in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.Shofar come in a variety of sizes.- Bible and rabbinic literature :...

 and a Lulav
Lulav
The Lulav is a closed frond of the date palm tree. It is one of the arba'ah minim used in the morning prayer services during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot...

. Nearby in Naaran
Naaran
Naaran or Na'aran was a Jewish settlement and synagogue during the 5th and 6th century AD and was located north of Jericho, in Ephraim, between Bethel and Jericho. The synagogue floor has a mosaic floor with several designs. In the middle of the floor there is a large wheel of the zodiac. The...

, there is another synagogue (discovered in 1918) from the 6th century that also has a mosaic floor. Most of its figurative features were defaced by ultra-religious Jews, reflecting the controversiality of figurative art in synagogue decoration.

The synagogue in Eshtemoa
Eshtemoa
Eshtemoa, meaning obedience, is a name found in the Bible.*A son of Ishbah or maybe a town inhabited by Ishbah's descendants. *A descendent of Bithiah princess of Egypt and Mered ....

 (As-Samu
As-Samu
As Samu or es-Samu is a town in the Hebron Governorate of the West Bank, 12 kilometers south of the city of Hebron. as-Samu is 60 kilometers south-west of Jerusalem. The area is a hilly, rocky area cut by some wadis. The Armistice Demarcation Line runs generally east to west approximately five...

) was built around the 4th century. The mosaic floor is decorated with only floral and geometric patterns. The synagogue in Khirbet Susiya (excavated in 1971-72, founded in the end of the 4th century) has three mosaic panels, the eastern one depicting a Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 shrine, two menorahs, a lulav
Lulav
The Lulav is a closed frond of the date palm tree. It is one of the arba'ah minim used in the morning prayer services during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot...

 and an etrog with columns, deer and rams. The central panel is geometric while the western one is seriously damaged but it has been suggested that it depicted Daniel
Daniel
Daniel is the protagonist in the Book of Daniel of the Hebrew Bible. In the narrative, when Daniel was a young man, he was taken into Babylonian captivity where he was educated in Chaldean thought. However, he never converted to Neo-Babylonian ways...

 in the lion’s den. The Roman synagogue in Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi is an oasis in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the caves of Qumran.-Etymology:The name En-gedi is composed of two Hebrew words: ein means spring and gdi means goat-kid. En Gedi thus means "Kid spring."...

 was remodeled in the Byzantine era and a more elaborate mosaic floor was laid down above the older white panels. The usual geometric design was enriched with birds in the center. It includes the names of the signs of the zodiac and important figures from the Jewish past but not their images suggesting that it served a rather conservative community.

The ban on figurative depiction was not taken so seriously by the Jews living in Byzantine Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

. In 1966 remains of a synagogue were found in the ancient harbour area. Its mosaic floor depicts King David as Orpheus
Orpheus
Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music; his attempt to retrieve his wife from the underworld; and his death at the hands of those who...

, identified by his name in Hebrew letters. Near him were lion cubs, a giraffe and a snake listening to him playing a lyre. A further portion of the floor was divided by medallions formed by vine leaves, each of which contains an animal: a lioness suckling her cub, a giraffe, peacocks, panthers, bears, a zebra and so on. The floor was paved in 508/509. Its is very similar to that of the synagogue at Maon (Menois) and the Christian church at Shellal
Shellal
Shellal is a small ancient village on the banks of the Nile, south of Aswan in Egypt. It was the traditional north frontier of the Nubian region with both the Egyptian Empire and the Roman Empire. During the period of ancient Egypt it was a very important quarry area for granite production...

, suggesting that the same artist most probably worked at all three places.

The House of Leontius in Bet She'an
Bet She'an
is a city in the North District of Israel which has played an important role historically due to its geographical location at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and Jezreel Valley...

 (excavated in 1964-72) is a rare example of a synagogue which was part of an inn. It was built in the Byzantine period. The colorful mosaic floor of the synagogue room had an outer stripe decorated with flowers and birds, around medallions with animals, created by vine trellises emerging from an amphora. The central medallion enclosed a menorah (candelabrum) beneath the word shalom (peace).

A 5th-century building in Huldah
Huldah
Huldah was a prophetess mentioned briefly in , and . After the discovery of a book of the Law during renovations at Solomon's Temple, on the order of King Josiah, Hilkiah together with Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah approach her to get the Lord's opinion....

 may be a Samaritan
Samaritan
The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism...

 synagogue. Its mosaic floor contains typical Jewish symbols (menorah, lulav, etrog) but the inscriptions are Greek. Another Samaritan synagogue with a mosaic floor was located in Bet She'an (excavated in 1960). The floor had only decorative motifs and an aedicule (shrine) with cultic symbols. The ban on human or animal images was more strictly observed by the Samaritans than their Jewish neighbours in the same town (see above). The mosaic was laid by the same masters who made the floor of the Beit Alfa synagogue. One of the inscriptions was written in Samaritan script.

In 2003, a synagogue dating from the 5th or 6th century was uncovered in the coastal Ionian town of Saranda, Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

. It was the first time remains of an early synagogue have been found in that area, and the history of its excavation is also noteworthy. Albanian archaeologists first discovered remains 20 years earlier and thought them to be from a house of worship, but prohibition of religion under the tight Communist rule at the time prevented them from exploring it further. Mosaic finds at the site suggested a Jewish past, leading to a joint project began between Albanian archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology in Albania and the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology. The team found exceptional mosaics depicting items associated with Jewish holidays, including a menorah, ram's horn, and citron tree. Mosaics in the basilica of the synagogue show the facade of what resembles a Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

, animals, trees, and other biblical symbols. The structure measures 20 by 24 m. and was probably last used in the 6th century as a church.

Pre-Islamic Arabia


In South Arabia two mosaic works were excavated in a Qataban
Qataban
Qataban was one of the ancient Yemeni kingdoms. Its heartland was located in the Baihan valley. Like some other Southern Arabian kingdoms it gained great wealth from the trade of frankincense and myrrh incense which were burned at altars...

ian from the late 3rd century, those two plates formed geometric and grapevines formation reflecting the traditions of that culture. In the Ghassanid era religious mosaic art flourished in their territory, so far five churches with mosaic were recorded from that era, two built by Ghassanid rulers and the other three by the Christian Arab community who wrote their names and dedications.


Pre-islamic Persia


Tilework had been known there for about two thousand years when cultural exchange between Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 and Romans influenced Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 artists to create mosaic patterns. Shapur I
Shapur I
Shapur I or also known as Shapur I the Great was the second Sassanid King of the Second Persian Empire. The dates of his reign are commonly given as 240/42 - 270/72, but it is likely that he also reigned as co-regent prior to his father's death in 242 .-Early years:Shapur was the son of Ardashir I...

 decorated his palace with tile compositions depicting dancers, musicians, courtesans, etc. This was the only significant example of figurative
Figurative art
Figurative art, sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and sculptures—which are clearly derived from real object sources, and are therefore by definition representational.-Definition:...

 Persian mosaic, which became phohibited after Arab conquest
Islamic conquest of Persia
The Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, the fall of Sassanid dynasty in 651 and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia...

 and arrival of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

.

Islamic art




Arab

Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Islam to the present day, influencing the design and construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture....

 used mosaic technique to decorate religious buildings and palaces after the Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

 of the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. In Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 the Arabs were influenced by the great tradition of Roman and Early Christian mosaic art. During the Umayyad Dynasty mosaic making remained a flourishing art form in Islamic culture and it is continued in the art of zellige
Zellige
Zellige, zillij or zellij is terra cotta tilework covered with enamel in the form of chips set into plaster. It is one of the main characteristics of the Moroccan architecture...

 and azulejo
Azulejo
Azulejo from the Arabic word Zellige زليج is a form of Portuguese or Spanish painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tilework. They have become a typical aspect of Portuguese culture, having been produced without interruption for five centuries...

 in various parts of the Arab world, although tile
Tile
A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops...

 was to become the main Islamic form of wall decoration.

The first great religious building of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 in Jerusalem, which was built between 688-692, was decorated with glass mosaics both inside and outside, by craftsmen of the Byzantine tradition. Only parts of the original interior decoration survive. The rich floral motifs follow Byzantine traditions, and are "Islamic only in the sense that the vocabulary is syncretic and does not include representation of men or animals."


The most important early Islamic mosaic work is the decoration of the Umayyad Mosque
Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or formerly the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist , is located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world...

 in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, then capital of the Arab Caliphate. The mosque was built between 706 and 715. The caliph obtained 200 skilled workers from the Byzantine Emperor to decorate the building. This is evidenced by the partly Byzantine style of the decoration. The mosaics of the inner courtyard depict Paradise with beautiful trees, flowers and small hill towns and villages in the background. The mosaics include no human figures, which makes them different from the otherwise similar contemporary Byzantine works. The biggest continuous section survives under the western arcade of the courtyard, called the "Barada Panel" after the river Barada
Barada
The Barada is the main river of Damascus, the capital city of Syria. It flows through the spring of `Ayn Fijah , about 27 km north west of Damascus in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, but its source is Lake Barada, located at about 8 km from Zabadani...

. It is thought that the mosque used to have the largest gold mosaic in the world, at over 4 m2. In 1893 a fire damaged the mosque extensively, and many mosaics were lost, although some have been restored since.

The mosaics of the Umayyad Mosque gave inspiration to later Damascene mosaic works. The Dome of the Treasury, which stands in the mosque courtyard, is covered with fine mosaics, probably dating from 13th- or 14th-century restoration work. The style of them are strikingly similar to the Barada Panel. The mausoleum of Sultan Baibars
Baibars
Baibars or Baybars , nicknamed Abu l-Futuh , was a Mamluk Sultan of Egypt. He was one of the commanders of the forces which inflicted a devastating defeat on the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France and he led the vanguard of the Egyptian army at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, which marked...

, Madrassa Zahiriyah
Az-Zahiriyah library
The Az-Zahiriyah library in Damascus, Syria dates back to 1277, taking its name from its founder Sultan Baibars . Building this library was his father’s idea but he died before he could achieve it. Initially Az-Zahiriah was a public school in charge of teaching Quranic sciences...

, which was built after 1277, is also decorated with a band of golden floral and architectural mosaics, running around inside the main prayer hall.

Non-religious Umayyad mosaic works were mainly floor panels which decorated the palaces of the caliphs and other high-ranking officials. They were closely modeled after the mosaics of the Roman country villas, once common in the Eastern Mediterranean. The most superb example can be found in the bath house of Hisham's Palace
Hisham's Palace
Hisham's Palace is the archaeological remains of an Umayyad winter palace located five km north of Jericho in the West Bank.-Construction and layout:...

, Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 which was made around 744. The main panel depicts a large tree and underneath it a lion attacking a deer (right side) and two deers peacefully grazing (left side). The panel probably represents good and bad governance. Mosaics with classical geometric motifs survived in the bath area of the 8th century Umayyad palace complex in Anjar
Anjar, Lebanon
Anjar , also known as Haoush Mousa , is a town of Lebanon located in the Bekaa Valley. The population is 2,400, consisting almost entirely of Armenians. The total area is about twenty square kilometers...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. The luxurious desert residence of Al-Walid II
Al-Walid II
Walid ibn Yazid or Walid II was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 743 until 744. He succeeded his uncle, Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik....

 in Qasr al-Hallabat (in present-day Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

) was also decorated with floor mosaics that show a high level of technical skill. The best preserved panel at Hallabat is divided by a Tree of Life flanked by "good" animals on one side and "bad" animals on the other. Among the Hallabat representations are vine scrolls, grapes, pomegranates, oryx, wolves, hares, a leopard, pairs of partridges, fish, bulls, ostriches, rabbits, rams, goats, lions and a snake. At Qastal, near Amman
Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

, excavations in 2000 uncovered the earliest known Umayyad mosaics in present-day Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, dating probably from the caliphate of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (685-705). They cover much of the floor of a finely decorated building that probably served as the palace of a local governor. The Qastal mosaics depict geometrical patterns, trees, animals, fruits and rosettes. Except for the open courtyard, entrance and staircases, the floors of the entire palace were covered in mosaics.

Some of the best examples of later Islamic mosaics were produced in Moorish Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The golden mosaics in the mihrab
Mihrab
A mihrab is semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla; that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying...

 and the central dome of the Great Mosque in Corduba have a decidedly Byzantine character. They were made between 965 and 970 by local craftsmen, supervised by a master mosaicist from Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, who was sent by the Byzantine Emperor to the Umayyad Caliph of Spain. The decoration is composed of colorful floral arabesques and wide bands of Arab calligraphy
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

. The mosaics were purported to evoke the glamour of the Great Mosque in Damascus, which was lost for the Umayyad family.

Mosaics generally went out of fashion in the Islamic world after the 8th century. Similar effects were achieved by the use of painted tilework, either geometric with small tiles, sometimes called mosaic, like the zillij of North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, or larger tiles painted with parts of a large decorative scheme (Qashani
Qashani
Qashani or Kashi is the method of mosaic production in the 19th century. The mosaic technique uses Persian-like floral-depicting 4- or 6-sided glazed tiles. This mosaical feature can be seen in The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. In Morocco, the process is known as zillij....

) in Persia, Turkey and further east.

Modern mosaics


Noted 19th century mosaics include those by Edward Burne-Jones
Edward Burne-Jones
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet was a British artist and designer closely associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked closely with William Morris on a wide range of decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Company...

 at St Pauls within the Walls in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. A modern example of mosaic is the Museum of Natural History station of the New York Subway.
Some modern mosaics are the work of modernisme
Modernisme
Modernisme was a cultural movement associated with the search for Catalan national identity. It is often understood as an equivalent to a number of fin-de-siècle art movements, such as Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Secessionism, and Liberty style, and was active from roughly 1888 to 1911 Modernisme ...

style architects Antoni Gaudí
Antoni Gaudí
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was a Spanish Catalan architect and figurehead of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí's works reflect his highly individual and distinctive style and are largely concentrated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, notably his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família.Much of Gaudí's work was...

 and Josep Maria Jujol
Josep Maria Jujol
Josep Maria Jujol Gibert was a Catalan architect.Jujol's wide field of activity ranged from furniture designs and painting, to architecture. He worked with Antoni Gaudí on many of his most famous works.-Biography:...

, for example the mosaics in the Park Güell
Park Güell
Park Güell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914...

 in Barcelona
Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

.
Today, among the leading figures of the mosaic world are Emma Biggs
Emma Biggs
Emma Biggs is a London-based mosaic artist and author of a number of standard textbooks on contemporary mosaic practice. Having recently completed a large public art project -- "Made in England" -- based on the visual culture and ideology of the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent , her work has...

 (UK), Marcelo de Melo
Marcelo de Melo
Marcelo José de Melo is a Brazilian artist. He was born in Apucarana, Paraná, and lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. ....

 (Brazil), Sonia King
Sonia King
Sonia King is a mosaic artist, author, movie writer and educator with studios in Dallas, Texas and San Francisco, California. She creates one-of-a-kind, fine art mosaics for gallery, architectural, community and residential settings. Her award-winning art is exhibited nationally and...

 (USA) and Saimir Strati
Saimir Strati
Saimir Strati is an Albanian mosaic artist.He began his career doing restorations in Albania to several mosaics at the archeological sites of Byllis, Amantia and Appolonia. He is a member of the British Association of Modern Mosaic.-Artworks:Saimir Strati is primarily an artist who works in mosaics...

 (Albania).

Mosaics as a popular craft: Mosaics have developed into a popular craft and art, and are not limited to professionals. Today's artisans and crafters work with stone, ceramics, shells, art glass, mirror, beads, and even odd items like doll parts, pearls, or photographs. While ancient mosaics tended to be architectural, modern mosaics are found covering everything from park benches and flowerpots to guitars and bicycles. Items can be as small as an earring or as large as a house.

Mosaic terminology


Mosaic is an art form which uses small pieces of materials placed together to create a unified whole. The materials commonly used are marble or other stone, glass, pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

, mirror or foil-backed glass, or shells.

The term for each piece of material is Tessera
Tessera
A tessera is an individual tile in a mosaic, usually formed in the shape of a cube. It is also known as an abaciscus, abaculus, or, in Persian کاشي معرق. In antiquity, mosaics were formed from naturally colored pebbles, but by 200 BC purpose-made tesserae were being used...

 (plural: tesserae). The term for the spaces in between where the grout goes is the interstices. Andamento
Andamento
Andamento is an Italian musical term used to refer to a fugue subject of above average length.-Definition:The term was coined by G.B. Martini in the second volume of his work Esemplare, ossia Saggio fondamentale pratico di contrappunto , which also featured the terms attaco and soggetto to refer to...

 is the word used to describe the movement and flow of Tesserae. The 'opus', the Latin for ‘work’, is the way in which the pieces are cut and placed varies and is known.

Common techniques include:
  • Opus regulatum: A grid; all tesserae align both vertically and horizontally.
  • Opus tessellatum
    Opus tessellatum
    Opus tessellatum refers to a type of mosaic made from tesserae. Opus tessellatum is usually used for background consisting of horizontally or vertically arranged lines ....

    : Tesserae form vertical or horizontal rows, but not both.
  • Opus vermiculatum
    Opus vermiculatum
    Opus vermiculatum is a type of mosaic which draws an outline around shapes using tesserae. This can be one or more rows and then contrasted in the background, typically with Opus tessellatum. The outline created is often light and offset by a dark background for greater contrast...

    : One or more lines of tesserae follow the edge of a special shape (letters or a major central graphic).
  • Opus musivum: Vermiculatum extends throughout the entire background.
  • Opus palladianum
    Opus palladianum
    Opus palladianum is a technique used in mosaic art in which the tesserae are irregularly shaped, and are not laid out in a regular pattern....

    : Instead of forming rows, tesserae are irregularly shaped. Also known as "crazy paving".
  • Opus sectile
    Opus sectile
    Opus sectile refers to an art technique popularized in the ancient and medieval Roman world where materials were cut and inlaid into walls and floors to make a picture or pattern. Common materials were marble, mother of pearl, and glass. The materials were cut in thin pieces, polished, then trimmed...

    : A major shape (e.g. heart, letter, cat) is formed by a single tessera, as later in pietra dura
    Pietra dura
    Pietra dura or pietre dure , called parchin kari in South Asia, is a term for the technique of using cut and fitted, highly-polished colored stones to create images. It is considered a decorative art...

    .
  • Opus classicum: When vermiculatum is combined with tessellatum or regulatum.
  • Opus circumactum: Tesserae are laid in overlapping semicircles or fan shapes.
  • Micromosaic: using very small tesserae, in Byzantine
    Byzantine
    Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

     icon
    Icon
    An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

    s and Italian panels for jewellery from the Renaissance on.

Three techniques



There are three main methods: the direct method, the indirect method and the double indirect method.

Direct method


The direct method of mosaic construction involves directly placing (gluing) the individual tessera
Tessera
A tessera is an individual tile in a mosaic, usually formed in the shape of a cube. It is also known as an abaciscus, abaculus, or, in Persian کاشي معرق. In antiquity, mosaics were formed from naturally colored pebbles, but by 200 BC purpose-made tesserae were being used...

e onto the supporting surface. This method is well suited to surfaces that have a three-dimensional quality, such as vases. This was used for the historic European wall and ceiling mosaics, following underdrawing
Underdrawing
Underdrawing is the drawing done on a painting ground before paint is applied, for example, an imprimatura or an underpainting. Underdrawing was used extensively by 15th century painters like Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. These artists "underdrew" with a brush, using hatching strokes for...

s of the main outlines on the wall below, which are often revealed again when the mosaic falls away.

The direct method suits small projects that are transportable. Another advantage of the direct method is that the resulting mosaic is progressively visible, allowing for any adjustments to tile color or placement.

The disadvantage of the direct method is that the artist must work directly at the chosen surface, which is often not practical for long periods of time, especially for large-scale projects. Also, it is difficult to control the evenness of the finished surface. This is of particular importance when creating a functional surface such as a floor or a table top.

A modern version of the direct method, sometimes called "double direct," is to work directly onto fiberglass mesh. The mosaic can then be constructed with the design visible on the surface and transported to its final location. Large work can be done in this way, with the mosaic being cut up for shipping and then reassembled for installation. It enables the artist to work in comfort in a studio rather than at the site of installation.

Indirect method



The indirect method of applying tesserae is often used for very large projects, projects with repetitive elements or for areas needing site specific shapes. Tiles are applied face-down to a backing paper using an adhesive, and later transferred onto walls, floors or craft projects. This method is most useful for extremely large projects as it gives the maker time to rework areas. Mosaic murals, benches and tabletops are some of the items usually made using the indirect method, as it results in a smoother and more even surface.

Double indirect method


The double indirect method can be used when it is important to see the work during the creation process as it will appear when completed. The tesserae are placed face-up on a medium (often adhesive-backed paper, sticky plastic or soft lime or putty) as it will appear when installed. When the mosaic is complete, a similar medium is placed atop it. The piece is then turned over, the original underlying material is carefully removed, and the piece is installed as in the indirect method described above. In comparison to the indirect method, this is a complex system to use and requires great skill on the part of the operator, to avoid damaging the work. Its greatest advantage lies in the possibility of the operator directly controlling the final result of the work, which is important e.g. when the human figure is involved.

Mathematics


The best way to arrange variously shaped tiles on a surface can lead to complicated mathematical problems - see tessellation
Tessellation
A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. One may also speak of tessellations of parts of the plane or of other surfaces. Generalizations to higher dimensions are also possible. Tessellations frequently appeared in the art...

 for details. Roger Penrose
Roger Penrose
Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College...

 is a British mathematician who has worked with tiling problems - see Penrose tiling
Penrose tiling
A Penrose tiling is a non-periodic tiling generated by an aperiodic set of prototiles named after Sir Roger Penrose, who investigated these sets in the 1970s. The aperiodicity of the Penrose prototiles implies that a shifted copy of a Penrose tiling will never match the original...

s.

The artist M. C. Escher
M. C. Escher
Maurits Cornelis Escher , usually referred to as M. C. Escher , was a Dutch graphic artist. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints...

 was influenced by Moorish mosaics to begin his investigations into tessellation
Tessellation
A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. One may also speak of tessellations of parts of the plane or of other surfaces. Generalizations to higher dimensions are also possible. Tessellations frequently appeared in the art...

.

The maze designer and artist Adrian Fisher
Adrian Fisher
Adrian Fisher is internationally recognised as one of the world's leading maze designers. His mazes can be found in all corners of the globe....

 creates modern mosaic using his patented Mitre Mosaic system (co-invented with Ed Pegg), which involves three principal shapes (Pyramid, Fin and Mitre). These shapes combine to form highly vigorous patterns; with the judicious selection of color, they can achieve spirited images, abstract patterns, and so on. Using the Mitre System, an area can be tiled infinitely without fault lines in any direction, yet whenever needed, can 'resolve' to a straight edge, by the use of two additional shapes (Square and Diamond). The position and alignment of every mosaic piece is predetermined to a fraction of a millimetre. The system is scalable by cutting the tesserae by waterjet to any chosen size, so that the final mosaic can fit any given space. This method is much more productive of artistic time without compromising the creative result. A notable example is his 7.2 x 1.22 metre mosaic mural installed in 2010 within the SciTec Building at Oundle School, Northamptonshire, England, which contains 9,104 pieces of mosaic, and uses 20 different colors of glazed ceramic mosaic tiles. There are four of his mosaics using the Mitre System within the Millennium Maze in Higginson Park, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England (installed 2000). He has also created private commissions using the Mitre Mosaic System.

Digital imaging


A mosaic in digital imaging
Digital imaging
Digital imaging or digital image acquisition is the creation of digital images, typically from a physical scene. The term is often assumed to imply or include the processing, compression, storage, printing, and display of such images...

 is a plurality of non-overlapping images, arranged in some tessellation
Tessellation
A tessellation or tiling of the plane is a pattern of plane figures that fills the plane with no overlaps and no gaps. One may also speak of tessellations of parts of the plane or of other surfaces. Generalizations to higher dimensions are also possible. Tessellations frequently appeared in the art...

. A photomosaic is a picture made up of various other pictures (pioneered by Joseph Francis), in which each "pixel
Pixel
In digital imaging, a pixel, or pel, is a single point in a raster image, or the smallest addressable screen element in a display device; it is the smallest unit of picture that can be represented or controlled....

" is another picture, when examined closely.

A tile mosaic is a digital image
Digital image
A digital image is a numeric representation of a two-dimensional image. Depending on whether or not the image resolution is fixed, it may be of vector or raster type...

 made up of individual tile
Tile
A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops...

s, arranged in a non-overlapping fashion, e.g. to make a static image on a shower room or bathing pool floor, by breaking the image down into square pixels formed from ceramic tiles (a typical size is 1 by 1 in (25.4 by 25.4 mm), as for example, on the floor of the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 pool, though sometimes larger tiles such as 2 by 2 in (50.8 by 50.8 mm) are used). These digital images are coarse in resolution and often simply express text, such as the depth of the pool in various places, but some such digital images are used to show a sunset or other beach theme.

Recent developments in digital image processing have led to the ability to design physical tile mosaics using computer aided design (CAD) software. The software typically takes as inputs a source bitmap
Bitmap
In computer graphics, a bitmap or pixmap is a type of memory organization or image file format used to store digital images. The term bitmap comes from the computer programming terminology, meaning just a map of bits, a spatially mapped array of bits. Now, along with pixmap, it commonly refers to...

 and a palette
Palette (computing)
In computer graphics, a palette is either a given, finite set of colors for the management of digital images , or a small on-screen graphical element for choosing from a limited set of choices, not necessarily colors .Depending on the context In computer graphics, a palette is either a given,...

 of colored tiles. The software makes a best-fit match of the tiles to the source image.

Robotic manufacturing


With high cost of labor in developed countries, production automation
Automation
Automation is the use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services. In the scope of industrialization, automation is a step beyond mechanization...

 has become increasingly popular. Rather than being assembled by hand, mosaics designed using computer aided design (CAD) software can be assembled by robot. Production can be greater than 10 times faster with higher accuracy. But these "computer" mosaics have a different look than hand-made "artisanal" mosaics. With robotic production, colored tiles are loaded into buffers, and then the robot picks and places tiles individually according to a command file from the design software.

See also

  • Antioch mosaics
    Antioch mosaics
    The Antioch mosaics are a grouping of over 300 mosaic floors created around the 3rd century AD, and discovered during archaeological excavations of Antioch between 1932 and 1939 by a consortium of five museums and institutions...

  • International Association of Marble, Slate and Stone Polishers, Rubbers and Sawyers, Tile and Marble setters' Helpers and Marble Mosaic and Terrazzo Workers' Helpers
  • HTML art
    • For example, Cybermosaic
      Cybermosaic
      The cybermosaic is a method of organising internet space by creating a webpage which is broken down into trillion of pieces or tiles. The tiles, made up of pixels, are the equivalent in the computer age of the ancient mosaic....


Other mosaic books

  • The Art of Mosaic - The Encyclopaedia of Projects, Techniques and Designs Sarah Kelly Search Press
  • Mosaic Techniques and Traditions Sonia King
    Sonia King
    Sonia King is a mosaic artist, author, movie writer and educator with studios in Dallas, Texas and San Francisco, California. She creates one-of-a-kind, fine art mosaics for gallery, architectural, community and residential settings. Her award-winning art is exhibited nationally and...

      Sterling Publishing Co
  • The Art of Mosaic Design JoAnn Locktov & Leslie Plummer Clagett Quarry Books
  • The Art of Mosaic Caroline Suter & Celia Gregory Anness Publishing Limited
  • The Complete Pebble Mosaic Handbook Maggy Howarth Frances Lincoln
  • Ravenna- Art & History Giuseppe Bovini Longo Publisher
  • Mosaics in Roman Britain: Stories in Stone - Patricia Witts Tempus
  • Mosaics – Inspiration & 24 Original Projects Kaffe Fassett & Candace Bahouth Ebury Press
  • Decorative Mosaics Elaine M. Goodwin Letts Contemporary Crafts
  • The Mosaic Book Peggy Vance & Celia Goodrick-Clarke Conran Octopus
  • Making Mosaics- Design, Techniques & Projects LeslieDierks Sterling/Lark
  • Antonio Gaudi-Master Architect Juan Bassegoda Nonell Abbeville Press
  • Stylish & simple Mosaic Emma Biggs
    Emma Biggs
    Emma Biggs is a London-based mosaic artist and author of a number of standard textbooks on contemporary mosaic practice. Having recently completed a large public art project -- "Made in England" -- based on the visual culture and ideology of the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent , her work has...

    & Tessa Hunkin Aurim
  • The Los Angeles Watts Towers Goldstone & Goldstone Thames & Hudson

External links