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||Medusa – part 8
||Page 8 of 8
|Gorgons on mosaics|
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
National Archaeological Museum, Naples. No inventory number.
(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.
The baby-faced Gorgoneion in the mosaic from the House of the Vestals, Pompeii.
The head of Medusa in the centre of a mosaic floor from
Dion Archaeological Museum, Macedonia, Greece.
the Villa of Dionysos, Dion, Macedonia. 2nd century AD.
Detail of a mosaic floor found in 1892 in Zea, Piraeus. Made in the 2nd century AD,
National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
using the opus tessallatum technique. The winged head of Medusa in the central rondo
portrays 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).
A large section of a mosaic floor with the winged head of Medusa in the central medallion
(see detail below). The geometric pattern surrounding the Gorgoneion is the same as that
on the mosaic from Piraeus above but monochrome (black and white). Ivy leaves fill the
corners within the mosaic's relatively simple frame.
2nd century AD. From a large buiding in Patras, northwestern Peloponnese, Greece.
Patras Archaeological Museum.
The museum has taken the bold decision to display a number of mosaics vertically.
Detail of the mosaic floor from Patras above, with the Gorgoneion in the central medallion.
Patras Archaeological Museum.
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.
The head of Medusa in the centre of a floor mosaic from Rome.
Roman Imperial period, end of the 1st - mid 2nd century AD.
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, National Museum of Rome. Inv. No. 125532.
Found in 1939 in a necropolis on the Via Imperiale, Rome.
The head of Medusa in the centre of a floor mosaic. From the
Bergama Archaeological Museum.
Lower City of Pergamon. Roman period, 3rd century AD.
The head of Medusa on a polychrome emblema (panel) of a floor mosaic
Terrace House 2 (Hanghaus 2), Dwelling Unit 3, Room 16a.
in one of the Terrace Houses in Ephesus. Roman period, 3rd century AD.
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). 
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.
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)
||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, Epigraphical 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
Corinth Archaeological Museum
Delos Archaeological Museum
Delphi Archaeological Museum
Dion Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Eleusis Archaeological Museum and site, Attica
Kavala Archaeological Museum, Macedonia
Mycenae Archaeological Site and Museum
Mykonos, Aegean Maritime Museum
Mykonos Archaeological Museum
Nafplion Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese
Olympia Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese
Olympia, Museum of the History of the Olympic Games in Antiquity
Patras Archaeological Museum, Peloponnese
Piraeus Archaeological Museum, Attica
Pyrgos Archaeological Museum, Elis
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
London, British Museum
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum
Many thanks to the staff of these museums,
especially at Dion, Gela, Manisa and Veria.
|Photos and articles © David John, except where otherwise specified.|
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