Ptolemaic Floor Mosaic of a Dog from Alexandria, Egypt, 2nd Century BC
The central medallion or emblem carries the picture of a dog, the first time ever such a motif is found on a floor mosaic in Alexandria. The dog is resting on his hind legs close to an upturned Greek vessel.
The Greeks used mosaics to decorate their floors in public places and private dwellings by using tesserae in many ways. Tesserae are the small pieces of stone, limestone, marble, glass or clay, which are cut in a small cubic form, hence their name. The Greek floor coverings became a complete tableau depicting plants, animals, geometrical designs and Greek/ Hellenistic motifs.
The Romans adopted also this art to cover their floors in homes and temples, as well as in their tombs. The Romans applied the same techniques of the Greeks. They also introduced new innovations in the manufacturing process.
The most ancient piece of mosaic was discovered in Ancient Iraq. It is from the Uruk civilization which dates back to 4000 years BC. Mosaic art disappeared after that time and reappeared again at the beginning of the 5th century BC.