Lecture 1

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Classics 456 Dr. David Soren

Roman Painting and Mosaics


                                Lecture l: Defining Mosaic Floors

A. Floors in Vitruvius-- Book VII. Chapter l

   l. The Statumen- fist sized stones in 3 to l ratio with 2/5ths lime, 1/3rd crushed tile

   2. Rudus- at least 30 cms, beat into solid mass by gangs

   3. Nucleus- pounded tile and lime in 3 to l ratio, slightly smaller

   4. Supra-Nucleus- marble dust and lime over levelled floor      

   5. Grout- after smoothed and polished, sift powdered marble on top plus       coating of lime and sand                   

   6. Open air problems- dampness, swelling, settling, plus cistern sagging due to air pockets, improper packing and frost 

   7. Tesserae

   8. Interstices

   9. Opus Tesselatum

  10. Opus Vermiculatum

  11. Opus Musivum

  12. Opus Palladianum

  13. Andamento (Italian)

  14. Opus Sectile

  15. Intarsia


B. Tamping floors- vectis ligneus (wooden bar)  or fistuca (mallet)


C. Polishing stone from Kos


D. Final Protection- drench with oil dregs every year before winter


E. Other Floor Information Vitruvius Left Out--

   l. How were the mosaic cubes placed- Sinopie

   2. The term mosaic

      a. Muzuwaq is Arabic word meaning decorated

      b. Pavimentum tesseris structum (struo)

      c. Tessera

      d. Tessera Hospitalis

      e. Tesserarius

      f. St. Augustine of Hippo- musivo picta sunt


F. How to Lift a Mosaic

   l. Shepherd Frere in Antiquity 1958

   2. ICCROM publications and Paul Schwarzbaum in Rome

   3. M.B. Cookson on film

   4. Plastic compound Q44/62 or Fish Glue


G. The Ancient Origins of Mosaics

   l. Uruk (Warka)- near Ur

      a. Eanna Sanctuary- Sumerian conical clay pegs like proto- opus reticulatum                      

      b. Ca. 3000 B.C.- black, white and red

      c. Half columns with geometric motif- zigzags, triangles, lozenges

      d. May imitate wall hangings


   2. Ur of Early Dynastic III circa 2600 B.C.

      a. Sumerian royal cemetary- shell, bone, lapis, red

         limestone, all used as inlay

      b. El Ubaid- near Ur 2600 B.C. - Palm log columns

                   cubes fastened with copper wire to oozy

                   bitumen base