Photos

Photographer's Note

I tried to clean this one up a bit. I sharpened quite a bit and cropped to try to focus on the figure at the center. I also added the frame and adjusted the color, as I think the first one is too over-saturated.

One of the most important and impressive works of art that survives from the ancient world, the so-called Alexander Mosaic, which depicts Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus (333 BC) where he defeated the Persian king Darius, shown in the photo. It is an enormous mosaic to be so detailed: it measures 19 ft X 10 feet (approx 5.82 m X 3.13 m). Most ancient mosaics that show various scenes in such detail are small "emblemata" that are set into place in less detailed (usually patterned) floor mosaics, but this mosaic occupied an entire room overlooking a central peristyle garden in the House of the Fawn, one of the largest and most luxurious homes in Pompeii. It was probably the residence of one of Pompeii's leading citizens. It is probably a reproduction of a lost Greek painting, possibly by Apelles, a contemporary of Alexander, or a later fourth century BC fresco by the Philoxenos painter of Etruria, who was mentioned by Pliny the Elder (NH 35.110). Some (in particular Italian archaeologist Fausto Levi) believe that it was originally a master work that was looted from Greece and carried off to Rome, and somehow made its way south to a rich house in Pompeii. The mosaic is partly ruined (some pieces of Alexander himself are missing). The mosaic is comprised of about 1.5 million colored tesserae utilizing the opus vermiculatum technique, which highlights the edges of the figure and makes them sharper and more pronounced and accurate. A modern copy was executed in 2003; the replica, utilizing both ancient and modern techniques, took 22 months to complete by an 8-person team and cost over $200,000. This replica was installed in the House of the Faun in 2005. The original is now on permanent display in the Mosaic Room in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, but it is hung on the wall. Viewing the copy in place in the floor gives visitors a sense of how they would have encountered the original, which was originally on the floor.

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