Tessera from pavement, Hadrian's Villa

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Object detail

Slightly irregular square tessera from pavement at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli, Rome
CH classification ARCHAEOLOGY Roman masonry fragment
Production place
L26mm x W26mm x D19mm
Media/Materials description
History and use
Floor mosaics made of tesserae (small cubes of stone, pottery or glass) provided a personalised decorative element to buildings. They were pressed into soft cement to create patterns and images. This was a popular decorative feature in Roman buildings and houses, with depicted subjects including scenes from classical stories, gods in combat and geometric patterns. Mosaics could be made in frames in workshops and affixed in place at a later time, or created by artisans on the spot.

This tile is likley from a mosaic pavement at Hadrians Villa. Shortly after taking power, Hadrian had his personal villa built near the popular resort town of Tivoli. The size of a small city, it was the largest villa known in the Roman world and included libraries, lakes, sculpture gardens and bath houses. Here, powerful citizens and the elite were entertained.
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