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Children's Roman Mosaics

Roman Mosaics

A mosaic is a picture made out of small pieces of coloured stone, ceramics or other materials. In Roman mosaics these pieces were all roughly the same size.

Each piece, called tesserae, were usually 8mm - 12mm along each side. Some were as small as 1mm, there would be 50 - 60 of these in one square centimetre and mosaics made like this were called 'paintings in stone' because from a ditance they looked like they were paintings and not mosaics.

The Greeks started of using pebbles and then gradually they started to use cut stone. The Romans saw the Greek mosaics and decided they wanted to have them for their floors too. The Romans did have some on their walls but mostly you would find them on the floors.

The Romans used types of stone called marble and limestone. They also used terracotta, (cut from roof tiles or even pottery) and sometimes glass.

Using the normal size tesserae (about 10mm) there would be 8,000 - 10,000 in one square metre.

Cutting the marble

They would use some tools called a hammer and hardie to cut the stone into tesserae, it was most probably slaves who did this. On the right you can see a modern set of these tools.

Setting the tesserae

Then they would mark some lines in the floor using something sharp and then put down some cement, called 'Pozzolan' and push the tesserae into the wet cement. When the cement was dry they would put some sand and water on the floor and then rub the floor all over with hard, rough stones to make the surface very smooth. They could also have used wax to make the colours of the stone brighter.

Links to other websites

These are some links to other websites that I think you'll find interesting. Most are not mosaics but they have lots of information on the ancient world of Greece & Rome. If you click on the button at the bottom of each one then that will take you through to their website. More to come!

The Roman Mysteries

Caroline Lawrence - Author of the Roman Mysteries series of books. Her website is a real mine of information, well worth a visits.