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Mosaics

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Amphitrite, ChrisO Enlarge

Mosaic of Amphitrite (Herculanum)
(Public domain)

Mosaics

Halfway between painting and sculpture, mosaics require the use of small pieces of stone, paste jewelry or ceramic called "tessera", bound together with cement. Once reunited, these pieces form a pictorial representation. Mosaics were frequently combined with frescoes, as they were often used to decorate the walls or vaults of religious buildings.

During Antiquity, the Romans excelled at this form of art, as testified to by the virtually intact mosaics found in houses in Pompei and Herculanum. Mosaics rose to their apogee during the Byzantine Empire, which saw the birth of a few of the most beautiful examples of this ornamental art.

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