History of mosaics

The mosaic art is one of the oldest artistic techniques. The basis of the mosaic art is
smashing stones into small cubes and inserting them in a still soft layer of mortar.
So-called clay mosaics have been around 3 400 BC. known in the Mesopotamian culture.
They decorated, e.g. the walls and pillars of the temple facades in the Babylonian capital.

Later, the Romans adopted the emblemata style of the Greeks, a Hellenistic tradition.
This was the combination of ornamental and pictorial.This style can be seen until the 2nd century AD. be followed. In the middle of the floor
an emblem was used, which was usually made in a workshop after a painting masterpiece.
Ornaments were laid all around.

In the 1st century AD. then an independent Roman mosaic art prevailed. The compositions
were mostly laid out in black and white on a large scale; the black image motif stood
out against the bright background (Neptune motive in Ostia)

In the 2nd century AD. carpet-like ornamental friezes with mythological scenes and later
everyday motifs, gladiatorial battle scenes and hunting motifs were added.

In early Christian and Byzantine art, the mosaic is flourishing. All wall surfaces, domes and vaults were adorned with representations. Famous are the Byzantine-style mosaics of Ravenna and Sicily. The mosaics were made using opaque glass pieces (smalt) and gold malt, which made the interior of the buildings shine in everlasting colors.

Then there was a turning point in the history of mosaic art.
Since the essence of the mosaic is permanence, masterpieces of painting, which should be preserved for posterity, were transformed into mosaics in the 17th century. For example, in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the paintings were replaced by mosaics.
In Ravenna you can admire the world-famous Early Christian and Byzantine mosaics,
which are on the Unesco World Heritage List. The flourishing period of the mosaics
began in the fifth century, when Ravenna became the capital of the Western Roman Empire,
and would last for two centuries.