Characteristics of Roman Mosaics


Mosaics are designs or pictorial representations made using small pieces of colored stone, marble or a glass specially manufactured for the purpose called tesserae. In the Roman period, these materials were pressed into grout, a soft cement , then left undisturbed until set. The gaps between the stones were then filled with cement, the composition was then cleaned and polished.


  • Mosaics were popular in ancient Rome, covering floors, walls and fountains, including those spewing water in household gardens.

Paintings to Mosaics

  • Roman mosaicists could make such detailed mosaics that the works looked like paintings. Indeed, mosaicists often made mosaic copies of earlier Greek works.


  • Besides copying Greek paintings, mosaics often carried geometric designs. Sometimes these designs were used as frameworks for detailed compositions, commonly of everyday life such as a garden. Mosaics also depicted gods and goddesses.


  • The use of emblemata made mosaic installation faster. An emblemata was a sort of prefab, detailed mosaic piece made in a workshop, then taken to work sites to be installed within a simpler background mosaic.

Geographical Extent

  • Romans carried their love of mosaic throughout the lands they conquered. The best mosaicists tended to stay close to home, since examples in Rome are more sophisticated in design and technique than those in the more distant reaches of the Empire.

Artistic Elements

  • Mosaicists used shading to achieve three-dimensionality, as well as foreshortening, a technique that causes features in a painting, say, a leading arm, to appear closer than its partner. Elements like shadow and light were employed to make a mosaic appear as real as possible.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit José A. Warletta:
Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • Facts About Mosaic Art

    Mosaic is a form of art that uses small pieces of material, such as tile, beads, paper or stones, arranged in a...

  • Facts About Roman Mosaics

    Throughout the Roman Empire mosaic artistry was an industry in its own right, with geometric patterns widely used for architectural enhancement. While...

  • The Styles of Roman & Byzantine Mosaics

    Roman and Byzantine mosaics developed at roughly the same time periods and thus exerted influence upon one another. However, both did possess...

  • The Characteristics of Roman Art

    Roman art had a significant influence on Western culture, in part because of the longevity of the Roman Empire and the amount...

Related Searches

Check It Out

12 Tiki Essentials to Turn Your Bar Cart Into a Tropical Paradise

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!