Friday, 19 August 2016

The Basilica of San Vitale - Byzantine Mosaics


Today, I will not be covering just one mosaic, but a series of them in one of the most beautifully mosaiced places in the world - the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. As a basilica it is a deeply Christian building and that is reflected in the wonderful artwork on the walls, which is some of the best early Byzantine art in the world. Work was started on the church in 525 AD and took 21 years to complete, and cost up to 26,000 gold pieces, which shows the magnificence and scale of this building!

The basilica has something known as a triforium, which is an shallow gallery with arches that is embedded within an inner wall. Mosaics within the arches depict the sacrifices from the Old Testament, such as the sacrifice of Isaac. They also show Abraham and Melchizedek, Moses and the Burning Bush, the story of Abel and Cain, Jeremiah and Isaiah and representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Earliest Mosaic - Ninhursag Temple

Hello all!

Today I thought I would take us back into the deepest depths of time to discover the first mosaic made out of recognizable tesserae, as opposed to pebbles. Now I know this means this isn't the earliest mosaic, but it did make a catchier title!

A little bit of background; this mosaic was found at the Ninhursag Temple (as you may have guessed from the title) in Tell al'Ubaid, Iraq. Tell al'Ubaid west of Ur, pictured on the map below.

The temple itself is dated to 2,500 BC, which is also the age of the mosaic, which is the Early Dynastic period in Mesopotamia, of which Iraq was once part. So this mosaic is over 4,500 years old!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Zeugma - The City of Mosaics

In 2014, news articles ran about 3 new mosaics found in the ancient city of Zeugma, however these mosaics were not all Zeugma had to offer. In fact, it has the largest mosaic museum in the world, with 170^2 feet of mosaics! It is an incredibly interesting archaeological site, especially if you are interested in mosaics as we are here, so I thought I'd do some research on it and share my findings with you guys here!

First of all, Zeugma is located in the Gaziantep province of Turkey, as shown on the map below:

It was part of both the Greek and Roman empires at different points during it's life span, being founded by one of the generals of Alexander the Great in 300 BC. In 64 BC the city was conquered by the Roman empire, when it likely gained the name Zeugma, meaning "bridge of boats", due to it having a pontoon of boats across the river Euphrates. It was during this time that it became wealthy, and that the mosaics we are interested in first started appearing, as it was along the Silk Road connecting Antioch to China.