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Painting with Stones: Mosaics in the Ancient World

The features of this School include:

A general introduction defining mosaics and their origins;

Detailed, illustrated discussions of the historical development of mosaic design from their origins, their use in the Greek and Roman world, and an introduction to Christian mosaics;

Case studies and participant discussion and activities on the North African Style mosaics of Piazza Armerina, the mosaics of Pompeii, and the controversy surrounding the flooding of the Zeugma mosaics of Turkey;

Detailed, illustrated fact sheets, time charts and notes on all the major developments in ancient mosaics and their artistic styles;

PowerPoint illustrated lectures based on Ma'at Productions' own © images;

Mosaics within their architectural and social settings;

An amusing 'case study' of the making of a Roman mosaic; &

A detailed examination of the technical aspects of mosaic-making and a discussion of the issue of 'art or craft'?

Mike has completed extensive periods of field research at archaeological sites in Greece, Egypt, Crete and Rome, and undertaken archaeological investigations of ancient Egyptian tombs in the Aswan region of Upper Egypt. He has studied at: the National Museums of Athens, Rome and London; the Louvre; The Royal Museums of Art and History (Brussels); the Archaeological Museum of the University of Zurich; the München Glyptothek (Munich); the Staatliche Museen (Berlin); and the Galleria Borghese, Museo Capitolino, Palazzo dei Conservatori, Museo della Civiltą Romana, Museo Gregoriano Profano, and Museo Pio-Clementino (Rome). Mike has made studies of mosaics at Pompeii, Herculaneum, Ostia, Santa Costanza (Rome), the Villa Adriano (Tivoli), and at the Baths of Caracalla and Diocletian (Rome).

Detail of Mosaic from the Villa of the Birds, Alexandria

 

OUTLINE OF THE SESSIONS

 

SESSION ONE

General Introduction

WHAT ARE MOSAICS?

THE FIRST MOSAICS

Mosaics in the Greek World

PEBBLE STYLE

CHIP MOSAIC TECHNIQUE

TESSERA TECHNIQUE

HELLENISTIC PICTORIAL MOSAICS OPUS VERMICULATUM

 

SESSION TWO

Mosaics in the Roman World

MOSAICS OF THE LATE REPUBLIC AND EARLY ROMAN EMPIRE PERIOD – ITALY AND NORTH AFRICA (c.200 BC – 375 AD)

ITALY: OPUS SIGNINUM STYLE

WALLS AND VAULTS

DEVELOPMENTS IN FLOOR MOSAICS NORTH AFRICA

Case study of the mosaics of Piazza Armerina

ROME: THE LATER EMPIRE

THE ROMAN WEST

THE ROMAN EAST

EARLY CHRISTIAN MOSAICS  

 

SESSION THREE

Ancient Mosaics – Art or Craft?

MAKING ANCIENT MOSAICS

ART OR CRAFT?

Zeugma: A Case Study

The Villa of the Birds, Alexandria

 

 

PRESS RELEASE FOR ORIGINAL 'PAINTING WITH STONES' SCHOOL HELD AT THE MOORILLA MUSEUM OF ANTIQUITIES JULY 2001

Ancient Mosaics Under the Spotlight: Ancient mosaics have been much in the news of late thanks to the 'rescue archaeology' currently being undertaken at Zeugma in Turkey. There the ruins of a huge ancient city are slowly disappearing below the waters of a new dam being constructed as part of the Turkish government's GAP irrigation and hydro-electricity scheme. Amongst Zeugma's treasures are its mosaics, many of which are of great historical and artistic importance. Indeed experts believe that Zeugma contains the largest collection of ancient mosaics to be found anywhere in the world. Mosaics are exceptionally durable thanks to the materials from which they were made – small pebbles and tesserae (tiles) made of rock, terracotta and even glass set into waterproof mortar. Like carpets, tiles and rugs today mosaics played more than just a utilitarian role in ancient times. As well as being a practical form of floor covering mosaics were often highly decorative and some were clearly intended to 'show off' the house-owner's wealth and taste. The very finest and most expensive private works were almost always found in the public rooms of houses and villas – especially sitting rooms, dining rooms and guest suites – where they could be seen and admired by visitors. The complexity and workmanship of many ancient mosaics is astonishing. The so-called 'Alexander mosaics' from Pompeii (which dates to around 80 BC) is some 2.7 metres high and 5.12 metres long. It is made up of over 1.5 million tiny titles! The work itself is a copy (in stone tesserae) of a now-lost Greek painting. Indeed one of the reasons mosaics are so important to the student of ancient art is the fact that all too often they represent the only surviving copies of paintings that have long since turned to dust and ash. The focus of the first day will be on the development of mosaic techniques, styles and symbolism during the Hellenistic, Roman and early Christian periods. Participants will be invited to undertake case studies on the 'African style' of mosaic design and the Moorilla Museum's own beautiful mosaics. The first day will conclude with some ancient entertainment and a glass of the Moorilla Estate's award winning wine. The performance of Roman prose and poetry, performed by Guilford Young College Drama students, promises to be a highlight of the event. The focus of the second day is on the technical aspects of ancient mosaics: how they were produced; who made them; and who purchased them and why. Practical demonstrations and tips on producing mosaics will also be given, and the situation at Zeugma will be discussed. The Winter School concludes after lunch on the second day.

Feed-back from Participants

"I like a good mix of practical and theoretical – you achieved this well An added bonus was a sense of humour in the presentations."

"Excellent handouts!"

"Excellent information, very well presented with a variety of tasks to motivate and interest people."

"The School was very well run, with plenty of interesting material explained clearly and concisely."

"Excellent – I thoroughly appreciated the presentations. Notes and variety of media was most satisfying."

"I enjoyed the program thoroughly."

"I enjoyed the multistyle of presentation, and the mixture of 'formal' lecture with individual do it yourself learning."

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