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My Favourite Planet > English > People > Medusa > part 8
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Gorgons on mosaics

The head of Medusa on a mosaic from the Casa delle Vestali, Pompeii at My Favourite Planet

A polychrome Gorgoneion in the centre of a black and white mosaic floor from Pompeii.

Early 1st century AD. Excavated on 11th November 1784 in Room 38, a cubiculum
(bedroom) of the House of the Vestals (Casa delle Vestali, Regio VI, Insula 1, Casa 7),
Pompeii. Removed to the Naples museum on 13th December 1787. The house was
named due to the mistaken belief that it was the residence the Vestal Virgins.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples. No inventory number.

The baby-faced Gorgoneion in the mosaic from the House of the Vestals, Pompeii at My Favourite Planet

The baby-faced Gorgoneion in the mosaic from the House of the Vestals, Pompeii.

The head of Medusa on a mosaic floor from Dion, Macedonia at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa in the centre of a mosaic floor from
the Villa of Dionysos, Dion, Macedonia. 2nd century AD.

Dion Archaeological Museum, Macedonia, Greece.

A mosaic floor from Piraeus with winged head of the Gorgon Medusa at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a mosaic floor found in 1892 in Zea, Piraeus. Made in the 2nd century AD,
using the opus tessallatum technique. The winged head of Medusa in the central rondo
portays her as an attractive, blond, young woman with snakes in her hair. The mosaic
also features the popular geometric pattern of intersecting radial spirals and concentric
circles, defined by triangles. Like the image of Medusa, it is thought that the pattern
was believed to have supernatural apotropaic properties (able to avert evil).

National Archaeological Museum, Athens.

Mosaic head of Medusa, Baths of Diocletian, Rome at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa with snakes, in the centre of a floor mosaic from Rome.

1st - 2nd century AD. Found in the Via Ardeatina, near the church of S. Palombo, Rome.

Baths of Diocletian, National Museum of Rome.

See also a small emblema with a bust of Dionysus from the same floor mosaic.

Mosaic head of Medusa, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa in the centre of a floor mosaic from Rome.

Roman Imperial period, end of the 1st - mid 2nd century AD.
Found in 1939 in a necropolis on the Via Imperiale, Rome.

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, National Museum of Rome. Inv. No. 125532.

Mosaic head of Medusa from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa in the centre of a floor mosaic. From the
Lower City of Pergamon. Roman period, 3rd century AD.

Bergama Archaeological Museum.

Mosaic head of Medusa from the Terrace Houses, Ephesus at My Favourite Planet

The head of Medusa on a polychrome emblema (panel) of a floor mosaic
in one of the Terrace Houses in Ephesus. Roman period, 3rd century AD.

Terrace House 2 (Hanghaus 2), Dwelling Unit 3, Room 16a.

The Gorgon's head is shown in the manner typical of the Roman era, with the tails of two snakes tied in a Herakles knot on her throat. The snake's bodies writhe around the sides of her winged head, and their heads appear above, facing each other. Unusually, they have "horns" and "beards" in the Egyptian manner (see Medusa part 3). Medusa's round face is quite human, feminine and pretty, and she appears to be looking up.

The x-shaped backgound has a pattern of grey scales, probably representing the aegis (see Medusa part 6). The finely executed image has a black oval frame within a thinner black quadrilateral frame, surrounded by a large oblong mosaic area consisting of a black and white recurring pattern of intersecting circles.

The image has been dated stylistically to the 3rd century AD, although some scholars have suggested the 2nd century and even the 5th century (Volker Michael Strocka and Werner Jobst). [1]

In the same room, to the left (west) of this mosaic, is another of the same size and style with an emblema containing a bust of Dionysus.

See also:

a Gorgon relief in the "Temple of Hadrian", Ephesus (Medusa part 3)

a Gorgoneion on the Library of Celsus, Ephesus (Medusa part 3)

Gorgoneions on sarcophagi from Ephesus (Medusa part 5)
Medusa Notes, references and links

1. Gorgon mosaic in Terrace House 2, Ephesus

See: David Parrish, Architectural function and decorative programs in the terrace houses in Ephesos, Topoi, volume 7/2, 1997, pages 579-633. At Persée.

An important article on the decoration of the Hanghäuser, with plans, photos and citations of the key studies of the subect. Parrish refers to Terrace House 2, Dwelling Unit 3 (on the plan "Hanghaus 2, Wohnung 3") as House 3.
Photos on the Medusa pages were taken
during visits to the following museums:

Berlin, Altes Museum
Berlin, Bode Museum
Berlin, Neues Museum
Dresden, Albertinum, Skulpturensammlung
Dresden, Semperbau, Abgusssammlung
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Münzkabinett
Hamburg, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe
Speyer, Historisches Museum der Pfalz

Athens, Acropolis Museum
Athens, Kerameikos Archaeological Museum
Athens, National Archaeological Museum
Corfu Archaeological Museum
Corfu, archaeological site of the Temple of Artemis
Corfu, Museum of Mon Repos
Delos Archaeological Museum
Delphi Archaeological Museum
Dion Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Eleusis Archaeological Museum and site, Attica
Kavala Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Mykonos, Aegean Maritime Museum
Nafplion Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese
Olympia Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese
Olympia, Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity
Piraeus Archaeological Museum, Attica
Thasos Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Thebes Archaeological Museum, Boeotia
Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Veria Archaeological Museum, Macedonia

Milan, Civic Archaeological Museum
Naples, National Archaeological Museum
Ostia Archaeological Museum
Paestum, National Archaeological Museum, Campania
Rome, Capitoline Museums, Palazzo dei Conservatori
Rome, National Etruscan Museum, Villa Giulia
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Baths of Diocletian
Rome, National Museum of Rome, Palazzo Massimo

Italy - Sicily
Agrigento Regional Archaeological Museum
Castelvetrano, Museo Civico
Catania, Museo Civico, Castello Ursino
Gela Regional Archaeological Museum
Palermo, Antonino Salinas Archaeological Museum
Syracuse, Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum

Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum
Leiden, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Bergama (Pergamon) Archaeological Museum
Didyma archaeological site
Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Selçuk
Ephesus archaeological site
Istanbul Archaeological Museums
Istanbul, Basilica Cistern
Izmir Archaeological Museum
Izmir Museum of History and Art
Manisa Archaeological Museum

United Kingdom
London, British Museum
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum

Many thanks to the staff of these museums,
especially at Dion, Gela, Manisa and Veria.
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< Medusa part 7  
Vyzantino Greek Restaurant, Plaka, Athens, Greece
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Big Dino's Galini, self-catering beach hotel, Nea Vrasna, Macedonia, Greece
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