Mosaics In The Ancient World

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One of the least common art forms in the contemporary art world is the mosaic. Compared to the more common art forms such as painting or ceramics, mosaics have decreased in use from their peak in the ancient world. However, this does not diminish the importance and beauty of mosaics, but rather allows modern societies to admire an art form that it is unfamiliar and exotic, with many intricacies that are not at first obvious. Commissioned mainly by the rich, mosaics grew and spread across the ancient world with many different varieties and styles being developed.
Mosaics in the ancient world required incredibly specialized artisans and a large amount of materials. The various requirements translate into mosaics being an expensive luxury of
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Their survival was often due to the collapsing of the surrounding structures. The collapsed walls would serve as protection from erosion and human destruction as the mosaics aged. Most of the wall mosaics surviving today can be found in churches dating back to the period of the Roman Empire. It is thanks to this form of preservation that many of these mosaics have been maintained throughout the ages. (Ling)
The most common form of mosaics was tesserae. These small tiles could be as thin as a millimeter, which allowed for a subtlety that the larger sectile work prevented. And it is in the realm of tesserae that the greatest achievements in mosaics were achieved. The tesserae would be built with materials such as pottery shards, stones, pebbles, and even glass. These different materials allow artists to achieve the precise color needed to accomplish the desired hues and shading that is so awe inspiring in the most intricate of mosaics.
The tradition of tesserae mosaics originated from the use of pebbles rather than tiles, which is more recognizable to the contemporary viewer. Pebble mosaics would often have much of the mortar showing through between the pebbles, and it was not until the later stages of the style that the pebbles were placed so close together that the mortar could not be
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In these large mosaics, a very detailed approach is taken in the attention to form and gradient. A wide range of colors were used, requiring a lot of consideration being shown to the specifics of each pebble. This consideration could also be seen in the use of smaller pebbles being used in the details of the piece, which allowed for a more specific approach to the modeling of the figures. These mosaics are truly a wonderful example of the beginning of the transition from the pebble mosaic into true tesserae mosaics. Many similarities can be seen between these pebble mosaics and true tesserae. The mortar was covered completely by tight fitting pebbles, a modeling of the figures was created, and the design conventions had developed in to the form that is seen in the first tesserae that have been found. These elements are outwardly similar to tesserae mosaics, but still lacked the refinement of medium into tiles. In addition, the pavements used large areas of a repeated pattern to surround and frame the figures, forming a focus of the mosaic. A sense of depth was starting to be created by layering the figures on top of one another as they move through the picture field.
While the Macedonian pavements are one-step towards tesserae, the use of standardized tile squares is still a ways off. Tesserae were slowly developed in various experimentations carried out across the ancient

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