Artist: Roman
Title: Mosaic With Greek Inscription (300-500 ACE, Stone, 40in. x 33 in., Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. 71.2262d)




Looking Questions

How do you think this was made?  What suggests this?

Do you recognize any letters?  Do they look similar to the alphabet you know?

Does this remind you of something you have seen before?  What?


About the Art

A picture or pattern made from small objects set into cement or plaster is known as a mosaic.   This art form appeared in ancient Greek pavement, with small natural pebbles set in mortar.  Tiny tiles called tessera, made of stone, glass, ceramic, wood or bone, eventually took the place of pebbles as mosaics became more decorative and intricate.  Adopted by Romans and spread throughout their empire, mosaics ranged from plain monochromatic designs to elaborate and colorful floral motifs and narratives.  These compositions adorned floors, walls and ceilings of villas and places of worship.  This particular Roman mosaic was found in North Africa, with a Greek inscription that reads "Berrullos, son of Dominus of Siantha, living made vows with his wife and children, made this mosaic in secret up to this point in time." 

Other Examples

The Chrysler Museum of Art has additional examples of mosaics from ancient Rome. 

CAMEL:  Romans would have encountered these animals as their empire spread to the east.  They were commonly used as pack animals and in the military, but also supplied milk and meat.  

HORSE: This animal was also part of military and daily life, used for carrying people and things along the many roads the Romans built.

PEACOCK: a popular subject, frequently symbolizing paradise and spring.

Discussion Questions

What do you think the Greek inscription by Berrullos means?  Ask others what they think.

If you were to design a mosaic, what would it look like?  Would you add words?  What would it say?