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A mosaic is a decoration where small pieces (tesserae) of colored glass, stone, or other material are set in cement to form a pattern. Mosaics can be found on floors, walls, ceilings or other objects.

Mosaic is the art of decoration with small pieces of colored glass, stone or other material. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration or of cultural significance as in a cathedral. Small tiles or fragments of pottery (known as tesserae, diminutive tessellae) or of colored glass or clear glass backed with metal foils, are used to create a pattern or picture.


Mosaic was used across the ancient world for domestic interior decoration. Mosaics of the 4th century BC are found in the Macedonian palace-city of Aegina and they enriched the floors of Hellenistic villas, but mosaic floors are particularly associated with Roman dwellings, from Britain to Dura-Europas. Splendid mosaic floors distinguished luxurious Roman villas across north Africa. In Rome, Nero and his architects used mosaics to cover the surfaces of wall and ceilings in the Domus Aurea, built 64 CE.

With the building of Christian basilicas in the late 4th century, wall and ceiling mosaics were adapted to Christian uses. The greatest development of Christian mosaics unfolded in the Byzantine empire including its outpost the Exarchate of Ravenna and its territories in Sicily, and in its rival Venice, where mosaic encrusts the exterior and interior of St Mark's. In Western Europe, the demanding techniques of fresco replaced the even more labor-intensive techniques of mosaic.

Islamic architecture used mosaic technique in intricate geometric designs. The process is known as zillij in North Africa and qashani further east. Some of the best examples of Islamic mosaics were produced in Moorish Spain and are still visible at the Alhambra. The craft has also been popular in the Eastern Orthodox tradition and in Russia.

A modern example of mosaic is the Museum of Natural History station of the New York Subway.

Some spectacular modern mosaics are the work of modernisme style architects Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol, for example the unique mosaics in the Park Güell in Barcelona.

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