Mosaic Patterns

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Mosaic Patterns and their history
There are few art forms older than mosaics, and for such an art to endure, there has to be good reason.  One of the primary reasons for this is due to the limitless patterns that can be made with mosaics.  Every early culture that mosaic patterns can be found in proves this; from the Greeks to the Romans, each culture and era had its own unique way of integrating mosaic patterns into their everyday lives.
The Romans were fond of their geometric patterns, and each country that belonged to the Roman Empire shows images that were used time and again.  While these patterns look highly complex, the way that they were created was actually quite simple and relied on Greek mathematics.
They would start by dividing up large pavements into equal proportioned areas by using a single length of rope and looping it around a wooden or metal peg.  They would then create an early 'compass' by placing in a nail into a long piece of wood and drilling points along the wood to allow them to draw circles.  These two tools would allow them to section and mark the areas they wished to inlay with a mosaic pattern, and recreate the pattern with mathematical precision.
While the Romans and Greeks favored geometric patterns, as time progressed, so did the use of mosaics, leading to the depiction of more complex and involved mosaic patterns.  The four seasons were often depicted, with one season in each corner of a specific pattern, religious figures and gods were also a firm favorite; Medusa and Neptune can often be found depicted.
The weather, crops, people, trades, places, animals; all of these were depicted in mosaic patterns throughout the years and as the Roman Empire annexed more countries, they would draw inspiration from them with influences seen from ancient Egyptian and Sumerian mosaic patterns as well as North African art and patterns.
While with the evolution of time, we have become more creative in the mosaic patterns we choose, if seen in parallel, these age old influences still remain; after all we still depict geometric patterns, people, places and events in our mosaics, it's just that they reflect the world of today, and they will remain as reminders of our time for generations to come.