Mosaics: small wonders from Ostia Antica’s great past

Ostia Antica was founded by king Anco Marzio in the 7th century BC to be Rome’s harbor. By the time it fell into decay at the end of the Empire, it had been embellished with incredible mosaics, both polychrome and black and white.

Small tesserae in calcareous stone, marble, flint, or colorful local rocks – brick red, pale yellow, brown, greenish, and blue-gray – completely covered walls and floors with motifs inspired by geometric shapes or flowers, portraits of the gods and mythological creatures like the Nereids and Tritons, seahorses, fish, ocean floors populated with marine animals, ships, scenes about fishing and daily activities.

Art historians find the mosaics in Ostia Antica incredibly interesting because they document the evolution of Roman mosaic art over time; but it doesn’t take an expert to appreciate their beauty.

Here is a small selection of those treasures.

Mosaics: small wonders from Ostia Antica’s great past


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