Information about Roman mosaics


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Some Roman mosaics

A piece of a Roman mosaic was called a tessera. They were made of natural materials, so the range of colours was limited. Real Roman mosaics were not necessarily laid in a square grid. Different shaped pieces were fitted in to make the more complicated pictures. These used thousands of tesserae. The Romans made all sorts of pictures.

This is a ferocious dog on a hall floor, to 'guard' the house. CAVE CANEM means "Beware of the dog".

Dog mosaic in Pompeii

Here is the floor of a dining room. The mosaic shows a floor with rubbish on it, presumably so anything you dropped on the floor wouldn't be noticed. Can you see the mouse?

Unswept floor mosaic

Medusa was a monster. She had snakes in her hair, and if she looked at you, you turned to stone.

Medusa mosaic

Here are some mosaics that you can see in Britain:

In the Burrell Collection, in Glasgow:

Cockerel mosaic in the Burrell Collection, in Glasgow

In Fishbourne Roman Palace, near Chichester:

Fishbourne Roman Palace mosaic Fishbourne Roman Palace mosaic

There are simpler Fishbourne mosaics here.


These patterns are too complicated to copy, but here are some simpler patterns to copy:


Other websites on Romans and mosaics

Pictures of Roman Mosaics:
Roman mosaics at Bignor
Some Roman mosaics in Britain
Fishbourne Roman Palace
Fullerton Mosaic at the Andover Museum
Mosaics at Chedworth Roman Villa
Rudston Geometric Mosaic
Brantingham Geometric Mosaics
Examples of British mosaics from BBC
Mosaics at Loupian, a villa in Gallia Narbonensis
Information about Roman Mosaics:
About the Lopen Roman Mosaic
Spanish Make a Maze based on a real maze
Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics (ASPROM)
List of Roman mosaics in Britain plus their websites, from ASPROM
Information about the Romans:
Roman gods and other Roman information, for children
Pyrrha's Roman Pages
Romans in Britain

Books on Roman mosaics

In Association with Amazon.co.uk
  • Geometric Patterns from Roman Mosaics and how to draw them by Robert Field - buy UK or USA
  • Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World by Katherine M. D. Dunbabin - buy UK or USA
In Association with Amazon.com