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Pavimenta atque emblemata vermiculata: regional styles in Hellenistic mosaic and the first mosaics at Pompeii

Westgate, Ruth Caroline 2000. Pavimenta atque emblemata vermiculata: regional styles in Hellenistic mosaic and the first mosaics at Pompeii. American Journal of Archaeology 104 (2) , pp. 255-275.

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Mosaic production in the Hellenistic period can be divided into two broad regional types, eastern and western, on the basis of stylistic and technical differences that are derived from varying local traditions of paving. The characteristics of these schools are outlined, and the earliest mosaics at Pompeii are shown to be derived from the western Greek tradition. However, comparison of the Pompeian floors with contemporary mosaics from Greek sites also reveals a significant difference: the first Pompeian mosaics consist almost exclusively of figured scenes set into relatively plain pavements, whereas in Greek mosaics abstract decoration is much more common, and figural motifs are the exception rather than the rule. These differences reflect a difference in the purpose of mosaics: Pompeian patrons wanted the decoration of their houses to display their familiarity with Greek culture, which encouraged the production of copies and pastiches of Greek art-works, and generic designs in Greek style. The very specific demands of the Pompeian market may have been served by a different process of production: there are signs of a separation between the manufacture of figured panels, which were probably made by Greeks, and the laying of the pavement itself, which may have been the work of local craftsmen.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Publisher: Archaeological Institute of America
ISSN: 0002-9114
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:53

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