Wonder for the eyes, tile by tile: mosaic floors

The mosaics found in Agrigentum are clear evidence of the contamination between Italic tradition – characterised by black and white mosaics – and Alexandrian tradition, brought to Italy by artists from North Africa and instead characterised by polychrome tiles.
Some refined examples are the Casa della Gazzella (House of the Gazelle), which takes its name from the emblem depicted in the mosaic picture found there, or the Casa del Maestro Astrattista (House of the Abstract Master), with a mosaic that imitates a floor in sawn marble or opus sectile, made with marble tiles of various origin and colour, in a geometric composition.

At the Museo Archeologico Regionale Pietro Griffo you can visit the mosaic of the Gazelle, emblematic example of the refinement that presented the decorations found in the domus of the Hellenistic Roman quarter in the imperial age. The mosaic, in opus vermiculatum, represents a gazelle in the act of lowering the muzzle towards the ground. Although the work has arrived to us rather damaged in its entirety, it is possible to clearly distinguish the neck of the animal, the head, the ears, the horns and the face with the eyes and the muzzle. For the rendering of colors, the artist has used stones with shades ranging from light yellow to ochre and from light gray to black. The shades give a sense of three-dimensionality and movement to the image.