Mosaic Stone History

Mosaic Stone History

Historians have a hard time pin pointing the exact origins of this ancient art. They know that mosaics go back more than 4,000 years. Evidence tells us that mosaics originated in southern Mesopotamia and were first made with Terra Cotta cones embedded in the walls and columns of buildings. These cones were colored and laid in geometric patterns then tightly pressed tightly together into a wall coated with a thick layer of wet plaster. This technique was termed Cone mosaic. These cones were used to decorate monumental mud-brick cult and palace architecture.
The production of mosaics arose independently in a number of cultures around the globe. The earliest known mosaics are Chinese. They were carefully arranged pebble-paved mosaics. The Sumerians used cone-shaped rods pushed into pillars and walls to produce geometric patterns.
Around 800 B.C., the Greeks began producing pebble mosaics. The designs were originally geometric, usually following rug patterns. They became more and more intricate after 400 B.C., when it became more economical to cut cubes from stone rods.

The Romans first emulated and then took mosaic making to the next level. Roman designs included intricate geometric borders, war depictions, stories of the Gods and their antics, and scenes from everyday life. Pavements predominated, but mosaics were also built onto walls and eventually onto ceilings.

Around 480 A.D., glass and gold began to replace stone as the primary media in mosaics. Subject matter turned to religious figures and iconography. During the Byzantine Era, the art of mosaics reaches its highest level of quality. Except floors and walls, artists decorate vaults and facades of temples and palaces. They use pieces of marble, natural stones, colored glass, even gold and silver.