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Wild Boar, Roman Mosaic

Wild Boar, Roman Mosaic

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Wild Boar, Roman Mosaic - History

Isis Ceremony, Herculaneum

This page is designed to provide you with resources and images to help you assess the relationship between Rome and North Africa by providing you with images from and about Roman Africa. Images on this page are restricted to students and faculty in Humanities 110. These images are available on the honor system and MAY NOT be downloaded. Thank you for your cooperation!

Click on any of the following topics for links for more information:

Where is North Africa?

Click Here for a Regional Map of " Africa Vetus " (Old Africa or Modern Day Tunisia).

  1. Map of Roman North Africa (Raven)
  2. Roman City Planning: Plan of Timgad (Woloch 13)
    • Portion of map of Timgad colony (Aries and Duby 330)
    • Map of Herculaneum [Bee Hive Plan]
    • Map of Volubilis (Aries and Duby 328): North African City with Bee hive plan
  3. Imperial Relief Showing a Walled Roman City ( Favro 5)
  4. Nile Landscape with Pygmies : detail from a wall painting from the House of the Physician, Pompeii (Kraus 210, fig. 306)
    • The Judgment of Solomon: Jews as Pygmies--"as so often in the time of Nero, the personage are represented as pygmies with what would seem to be an attempt at parody" detail from a wall painting from the House of the Physician, Pompeii (Kraus 210, fig. 305)
  5. "Milo's House" (The House of the Tragic Poet!) (Borriello 96)
  6. Snowden Figure #60: Mural painting of black and white priests in an Isiac ceremony
    • Black and White Version
    • Color Version

  1. Snowden Figure #52: Detail from a Mosaic of a Rural Scene
  2. The Estate of Lord Julius (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 121)
  3. Fishing Scenes on a sea filled with fish (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 81)
  4. Lions devouring a wild boar (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 149)
  5. Banquet Scene, Carthage (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 45)
  6. Eternal Time: Sun, Moon, and Seasons (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 13)
  7. Thumbnail Sketches of Mosaics used in Before Color Prejudice
  8. Xenia of Fish: House of the Cascade, Utica (Veyne)
  9. Snowden Figure #53: Mosaic depicting servants bringing accessories for a banquet
  10. Condemned prisoners offered up to the wild animals (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 163b)
  11. Snowden Figure #55: Mosaic of a chariot race
    • Black and White Version (Entire Mosaic Snowden)
    • Color Detail of Spectators (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 143)
  12. Figure #26: "Mosaic of five Animal Fighters" (Really Sodalites)
    • Black and White Version (Snowden)
    • Color Version (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 155)

Images from Snowden's Before Color Prejudice

  1. Figure #26: "Mosaic of five Animal Fighters" (Really Sodalites)
    • Black and White Version (Snowden)
    • Color Version (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 155)
  2. Figure #51: Detail from Mosaic depicting a black man following a camel
  3. Figure #52: Detail from a Mosaic of a Rural Scene
  4. Figure #53: Mosaic depicting servants bringing accessories for a banquet
  5. Figure #54: Mosaic of Wrestlers
    • Black and White Version (Snowden)
    • Color Version (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 135)
  6. Figure #55: Mosaic of a chariot race
    • Black and White Version (Entire Mosaic Snowden)
    • Color Detail of Spectators (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 143)
  7. Figure #56: Mosaic of Racially Mixed Couple
    • Black and White Version
    • Color Version
  8. Figure #60: Mural painting of black and white priests in an Isiac ceremony
    • Black and White Version
    • Color Version
  9. Figure #61: Mural of Isiac Ritual

  1. Detail of Painting From Pompeii--Priest Shaking a Sistrum (Etienne 118)
  2. Detail of Palestrina Mosaic--Cult Procession (Witt fig. 9)
  3. Isiac wall-painting from Pompeii--Isis Fortuna from a Latrine Corner Wall (Witt fig. 24)
  4. Figure #60 from Snowden: Mural painting of black and white priests in an Isiac ceremony
    • Black and White Version (Snowden)
    • Color Version (Etienne 114)
  5. Marble Statue of Isis--Temple of Isis, Pompeii (Brilliant 93)
  6. The Temple of Isis (Brilliant 92)
  7. Plan of the Temple of Isis (Brilliant 92)
  8. The priests and priestess of Isis--Pompeii wall painting (Etienne 118)


    • Bust of Egypt (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 9)
    • Bust of Asia (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 10)
    • Rome (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 7)
    • Bust of Africa (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 6)
    • The goddess Africa and the Seasons (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 3)
    • Bust of the goddess Africa (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 1)
    • Spring (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 23)
    • Summer (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 24)
    • Eternal Time: Sun, Moon, and Seasons (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 13)
    • The Seasons and the Months: an illustrated calendar (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 20)
  1. Life on the Great Estates (Blanchard-Lemee fig. ?)
  2. Banquet Scene, Carthage (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 45)
  3. Fishing Scenes on a sea filled with fish (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 81)
  4. Venus Anadyomene and fishing scenes (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 108)
  5. The Estate of Lord Julius (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 121)
  6. Man with Basket (Veyne)
  7. Xenia of Fish: House of the Cascade, Utica (Veyne)
  1. Condemned prisoners offered up to the wild animals (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 163a)
  2. Condemned prisoners offered up to the wild animals (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 163b)
  3. Lions devouring a wild boar (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 149)
  4. Hunting Mosaic of Boar: House of the New Hunt, Bulla Regia (Veyne)
  5. Hunt Scene with African Animals: Triclinium Mosaic in House of the New Hunt, Bulla Regia (Veyne)
  6. The Hunt (??)


  1. The poet Virgil and two Muses (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 167)
  2. Leda and the Swan Satyr embracing a Maenad: notice satyr's skin color (Blanchard-Lemee fig. 196-97)
  3. The Finding of Telephus, from the Basilica in Pompeii: "the scene shows Hercules recognizing his own son begot by Auge and abandoned on a mountainside in Arcadia, where the child was suckled by a doe." Notice the skincolor and features of Hercules (Kraus 132 & fig. 160)
  4. Mosaic of the Muses: House of the Months, El Djem (Veyne)
  1. By Region
  2. By Topic
    • Hadrianic Baths in Libya (includes a reconstruction)
    • Mosaics from El Djem (includes sacrificial humans at the Arena)
    • The Ampitheatre at El Djem
    • Egyptian Obelisques in Rome


  1. Pompeii Page (Laura Arnold)
    1. Roman Cooking
    2. Links to Classical Archeology
    3. Great Images of Roman Architecture
    4. Public Buildings
      • Public Buildings, Pompeii
    5. Public Objects
      • Sarcophagus
    6. Roman Houses
      • La Casa Romana
      • The House of the Faun, Pompeii
    7. Household Objects
      • Coins
      • Books
        • The Vatican Vergil (Illustrated)
        • Recipes
    8. Daily Life
      • Mealtime
      • Citizen in a Toga
    9. Emperors
      • I, Claudius (Modern Material Culture)
      • Portraits of the Emperors


    Banta, Martha. Imaging American Women . NY: Columbia UP, 1987.

    Blanchard-Lemee, Michele, et. al. Mosaics of Roman Africa . NY: George Braziller, 1996.

    Borriello, Mariarosaria, et. al . Pompei . Italy, Ferrara Arte S.A., 1996.

    Brilliant, Richard. Pompeii AD 79 . NY: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1979.

    Etienne, Robert. Pompeii: The Day a City Died . NY Harry Abrahms.

    Kraus, Theodor. Pompeii and Herculaneum . NY: Harry Abrahms, 1975.

    Raven, Susan. Rome in Africa, 3rd ed. NY: Routledge, 1993.

    Snowden, Frank M. Before Color Prejudice . Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1983.

    Veyne, Paul, ed. A History of Private Life: from Pagan Rome to Byzantium . Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1987.

    Witt, R.E. Isis in the Greco-Roman World. Ithaca, BY: Cornell UP, 1971.

    Woloch, G. Michael. Roman Cities. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1983.


    Mosaic of a boar hunt from the Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina in Sicily, fourth century. Photograph by Laur Phil. Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

    “Three deaths are better than life,” an Old Irish riddle runs: “the death of a salmon, the death of a fat pig, the death of a robber.” Of these three deaths, the fat pigs fell the most frequently: across the early medieval West, they were ubiquitous. Pigs were the consummate meat of the early Middle Ages. Horses and oxen have pulling power, cows and goats and sheep make milk and manure (and skin for parchment and packaging), sheep grow wool, and poultry lay eggs. But domesticated pigs were only destined to be butchered. It took them less than two years to reach their maximum weight, so efficient were they in converting whatever they found or were fed into meat. The osteoarchaeological record shows that farmers slaughtered almost all their pigs before they reached their third birthday, and many of them much earlier, with the exception of breeding sows and stud boars.

    But pork was not the meat that everyone ate most. That distinction generally went either to beef or to mutton. Some people did not keep pigs at all: Greenlanders, for instance, and Jews and Muslims, as far as we can tell. There were also some Christians who did not own pigs—or at least, there were Christians who drew up wills that listed their livestock but did not mention any pigs. But because pigs were only ever raised for their flesh, they were a kind of metonym for meat more generally. Pork inspired rhapsodies, and even miracles in Saint Brigit’s Ireland, tree bark was turned not into fishes and loaves but bacon in order to feed a crowd. And when the scholar al-Jāḥiẓ wrote a massive collection about animals at the Abbasid court in Baghdad, he had plenty of faults to find with pigs, both as a Muslim and as a naturalist. But he had also heard so many paeans to pork that he was fascinated by what it might taste like.

    Even the Christians who loved to eat pigs vilified them as greedy, dirty, destructive animals. This reputation was woven into the scriptures that early medieval readers studied and quoted and wove into their own stories and texts. In the Synoptic Gospels’ account of the exorcism of Legion the demons were driven into pigs—not chickens or sheep or fish. Elsewhere in the Bible, the Prodigal Son hits rock bottom when, after spending his way through his inheritance, he is forced to take employment as a swineherd and eat what his pigs eat (Luke 15:11–32). In 2 Peter 2:22, building on one of the Proverbs (26:11), heretics are described as dogs who return to their vomit, and as clean pigs who turn right back to the mud. And the Gospel of Matthew (7:6) captures the concept of squandered resources with the image of casting pearls before swine. Augustine winked at this passage in his infamous story in the Confessions about stealing pears as a boy in North Africa—his second delinquent act was to waste what he had stolen by tossing most of his haul to a herd of pigs.

    The pig makes what is probably its most prominent appearance in the Judeo-Christian tradition in Psalm 80 in the Hebrew Bible (Psalm 79 in the Septuagint and Vulgate). In this psalm, the people of Israel ask God to show them favor again because they believe he has turned away from them. They compare themselves to a great vine that he has transplanted from Egypt. He has cleared the soil for them by removing other peoples from it, and the vine has grown so large and strong that it has come to cast shadows on the mountains and the great cedars, and it stretches from the river to the sea. But now, the Israelites lament, the vast vineyard is under siege. God has knocked down the wall that protected it, and its grapes are being harvested by passersby. Insects are swarming it. And the boar of the forest is destroying and devouring it. In Hebrew only the animal itself is mentioned—hazir mi-ya’ar—but in Greek and Latin, the boar gets an additional epithet: it is not only the aper de silva but also the singularis ferus, the singular beast.

    These are ancient texts, but the pig’s characterization as a ravenous and dirty animal has transcended particular historical moments. Christians in early medieval Europe made the same associations, and so do we. More than one historian has pointed this out over the years, partly with the goal of rehabilitating the animals’ reputation. But this flat stereotype, this singular beast, was not the only profile a pig could have, even in the past: “premodern” views were subtler than the shorthand symbolism suggests. In late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, farmers, policy makers, and philosophers were perfectly capable of holding multiple views of pigs simultaneously, of playing into a familiar caricature but also of honing in on the complexities of the species. They saw that pigs were not merely commodities that provided humans with meat or symbols that worked as handy metaphors. They were also creatures that were capable of adapting to and altering their environments, including the human environments that only partially constrained them. Pigs were difficult to fully domesticate, both physically and conceptually. They called attention to themselves and required some engagement with their complex lives.

    Pigs were not the only domesticated mammal to have wild counterparts roaming the early medieval landscape. The aurochs, a species of wild cattle, could be found in Europe until the seventeenth century (although it has left only trace signs on early medieval sites). In North Africa, both aurochs and Barbary sheep were eaten alongside their domesticated relatives. But for many people, the wild boar was far more captivating. This was because across Eurasia throughout antiquity and for most of the Middle Ages poets and hunters celebrated the wild boar as a premier big-game animal. They admired and feared it for its strength and fury. Boars could easily kill men more than one medieval king died trying to hunt them. And even the men who killed their boars usually sustained some kind of injury in the close combat that the final kill required. Only in the fourteenth century would the deer surpass the boar as the favorite aristocratic game in Europe.

    As a result, wild boars were asymmetrically gendered in medieval culture. People obviously knew that there were wild pigs of both sexes, but the subspecies as a whole was always thought of as masculine: the animals were boars, never sows. The Latin terms that writers used also tended to conflate species and gender in this way. Their terms for wild boar (aper) and the domesticated male pig (verres) were sometimes used interchangeably. So were the terms for domesticated pig (porcus) and sow (sus). But nobody ever called a wild pig a sow. Because of its masculine overtones, the Germanic name element *ebur-, “Boar,” was seen to be a respectable one to bestow on a boy, from tenant farmers to royal officials. Occasionally we meet an Ebretrudis, Ebrehildis, or Ebreverta—these were women’s names—but on the whole, *ebur- was much likelier to be attached to a man.

    Class distinction was another force splitting wild and domesticated pigs from each other. Among medievalists it is fairly well known that wild boars were a favored insignia for military gear among so-called Germanic peoples in antiquity and the early Middle Ages (so-called because “Germanic” is an agglomeration of the non- or pre-Roman societies of northern and eastern Europe that flattens their engagement with Roman culture and also their differences from one another). But Romans celebrated the wild boar in the same spirit of martial elitism. The animal was the emblem of three legions (I Italica in Italy, X Fretensis in Jerusalem, XX Valeria Victrix in Pannonia and Illyricum, Germania, and finally Britain), and so it appeared on their equipment, too, not to mention their coinage and even their building materials.

    And when imperial aristocrats decorated their rural villas and urban homes in late antiquity, they so frequently commissioned mosaics depicting wild boar hunts that art historians have warned us not to take these as straightforward signs of actual hunting on the premises. Instead such scenes were strategically placed in receiving rooms as images of pure masculine power, or virtus. The hunters may even have been Christian figures: although the mosaics often incorporate themes from ancient mythology—which was part of the shared culture of the Mediterranean world—they were also compatible with a sense of Christian triumphalism over death. A similar idea was at play on Roman sarcophagi that featured boar hunts. The hunters’ courage spoke to the resolve of the occupants of the tombs, who were invariably men and boys. The more formidable the boar, the more admirable the hunter and patron, and so the boars on these pieces are colossal and savage: barreled bodies, enormous heads, glinting tusks. And unlike domesticated pigs, which are usually depicted with curly tails, these boars are usually shown with straight tails. So when the North African poet Luxorius spoke of a “wild boar of Mars” eating fodder from the hand of its master in the marbled rooms of a villa, both his Vandal and his Roman (and Roman-Vandal) audiences would have easily understood the message. This pig might act like an aristocrat, but it had gone soft.

    Anyone was allowed to hunt wild boar in the early Middle Ages, and it is not unusual to find a few wild mammals, sometimes even wild boar, in settlements that were not populated by conspicuous consumers. But elites so greatly prized big-game animals that in the course of the Middle Ages, European governments, starting with the Merovingians in the seventh century, increasingly cordoned off specific tracts of woodland as “forests.” Doing so made them special legal spaces in which only kings and their friends could hunt—although this right was transferable to private landowners when rulers gave forests away as gifts, and sometimes elites tried to create their own private hunting parks by monopolizing woodlands for themselves. In the ninth century, the Carolingian court in Francia became fixated on hunting as both a metaphor and a proof-test for military and imperial exercise. In the process, forest rights became such a vital form of political legitimacy that Charles the Bald would restrict his own son’s access to key hunting grounds while Charles was away in Italy, to forestall the possibility of a usurpation. In the high Middle Ages the kings of England would eventually designate wild boars, regardless of their haunts, as off-limits to all but the court. There were probably not very many wild pigs around in England by the thirteenth century, when those laws were first issued. This is what the bone records suggest, at least: wild boars disappear from the animal remains on medieval settlements. Perhaps as far as the kings saw it, it would be unconscionable for the few that were left to end up in the hands of peasants.

    Adapted from Legions of Pigs in the Early Medieval West. Copyright © 2020 by Jamie Kreiner. Used with permission of the publisher, Yale University Press. All rights reserved.

    Pompeii, Italy: Exploring the Ancient Ruins of the Roman Empire

    Pompeii is an ancient city in Campania that is located about 30 minutes outside of Naples. While Pompeii was once a bustling Roman city, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. left the city buried in meters of pumice and ash. Nearly 1,000 years later, visitors are still able to visit this historic site and catch a glimpse of what Pompeii looked like before its demise. From the Villa of the Mysteries to the Temple of Apollo, Pompeii is filled with well-preserved frescoes, ancient Roman temples, and old Roman residences.

    This photo was taken in the Villa of the Mysteries, a suburban Roman villa on the outskirts of Pompeii. The Villa features a collection of mosaics, pottery, and items from the ancient village. What is most haunting about this location is the array of "stone people" that were cemented in place as pumice and ash engulfed the city. Seeing these figures made Pompeii more than a historical stop for me, but a city with real people and tangible history.

    This small statue is located in the House of the Faun, a large and impressive private residence that was constructed in the 2nd century B.C. This house features many stunning mosaics, including one of the battle of Issus in 333 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III, as well as a bronze statue of a dancing Faun. Fauns, in Roman mythology, are creatures that are half human and half goat. From the gardens to the wall mosaics in each room, House of the Faun showcases the life of a rich patrician in ancient Pompeii.

    This photo was taken in the Casa della Caccia Antica, a house that is adorned with mosaics, marble floors, and beautiful gardens. At this time, Pompeii's wealthy payed particular attention to lavish embellishments and elegant decorations. The name of this house translates into the "House of the Ancient Hunt" or "House of the Wild Boar," due to a mosaic on the atrium floor that depicts a wild boar being attacked by dogs.

    The Forum is the center of social and civic life in Pompeii. This area has many temples, municipal buildings, and religious sites. The Forum features the Temple of Jupiter, the Arch to Drusus and Arch of Germanicus, the Basilica, Forum Granary, the Temple of Apollo, and the Temple of Vespasian. It's amazing to wander around the city center and admire the ancient limestone columns.

    Although Pompeii is massive, I managed to explore most of the city in 2 hours. The city is very walkable and it's surreal to see the remains of a 2,000 year old city. Pompeii is an incredible place to visit, especially if you've studied its history before going!

    If you have been or want to go to Pompeii, let me know what you think of this ancient city in the commnents below!

    Eating animals in Roman antiquity

    When you fancy a tasty meat dish and go to a local butcher shop or supermarket, the variety of animals to choose from is limited to a handful. Beef, pork and chicken dominate the shelves. You might find some turkey or lamb as well. In Roman antiquity this was slightly different. Those who could afford it were adventurous eaters in our eyes.

    Today, modern foodies dine on snails, guinea fowl, geese, ducks, hares, rabbits, pheasants, wild boar, venison and partridges. They also appreciate chicken livers, pork cheeks and calf tongue – just like Roman gourmands did in antiquity.

    Trendy nose-to-tail initiatives advocate eating every part of an animal, along with animals that are normally discarded, such as muskrats, crows, coots and even swans. Their aim is simple: no food waste. However, in Roman antiquity eating the whole animal was the norm. Status was derived from serving almost every animal that swam, flew or walked in their known world.

    Exotic and unconventional animals

    You have probably heard of Romans eating flamingo tongues, stuffed dormice, roasted parrots, and moray eel. And yes, they did eat these things. The only surviving Roman cookbook, the Apicius tekst, contains recipes for exotic and unconventional animals.

    The book has sauces for crane, turtle-dove, flamingo, and various other exotic birds. A sauce recipe for flamingo says:

    you also make the same sauce for parrot

    Other recipes serve ostrich, and small birds, such as thrushes. Singing birds are dipped in sauces or chopped up as a stuffing.

    Fresco singing bird with pears from Villa di Oplonti

    Unconventional animals, such as moray eels, snails and dormice, were farmed in wealthy homes. Varro refers to special jars in which dormice were fattened prior to being eaten. These jars were found in Pompeii. They had breathing holes and little shelves were the dormice could sleep on. At the famous Trimalchio’s banquet dormice were served rolled in honey and poppyseed. The Apicius text had a very tasty suggestion for preparing them:

    Stuff the dormice with pork forcemeat and also with the flesh from all parts of the dormouse, pounded with pepper, pine nuts, laser and liquamen. Stew them up and arrange them on a tile and put them in the oven.

    Game was eaten too. There are recipes for wild boar, deer, venison, wild goat and wild sheep. Romans loved hare and had some delicious ways of preparing it: in sauces, stuffed and in a stew with their blood, liver, lungs. I always wonder what happened with all the wild animals that were killed during venationes, in the arena. At least some of the time, they may have been eaten too. If the story of the festival held by emperor Probus in the third century AD is true, spectators were allowed to hunt wild animals themselves and take the kills home as food. A few years ago a giraffe bone was found during excavations in a Pompeian inn. There were cutting marks on it. Unfortunately there are no recipes for wild animals, and references in literature for eating them are very limited.

    From nose to tail

    If you wonder if Romans eat animals whole, you find the answer in the Apicius text. Recipes are given for roasted and cooked sterile womb, boiled and stuffed cow’s udder, fig-fattened liver and stuffed pig’s stomach. There are recipes with goat’s and suckling pig sweetbreads, capon testicles, chicken gizzards, blood, lungs, feet, tails, tripe, kidneys and there is a lot of cooking with brains.

    Brains were used very often in stuffings for animals, in sausages, and in patinae. Patina was a type of dish made of all kinds of ingredients, which was mostly thickened with eggs. It is excellent for processing all animal parts.

    The summum of patinae in the cookbook, the Apician patina, calls for:

    cooked udder, flaked fish, chicken meat and figpeckers or cooked breast of thrush and whatever finest quality things there may be.

    This patina is like a lasagne: sauce and layers of thin dough sheets are alternated in a tray.

    Mosaic with fish_Museo Archeologico Napoli

    The most luxury patina ever made must have been the one that the first-century AD emperor Vitellius ordered for no less than 100.000 sestertii. According to Suetonius (AD 69-122) the dish was called Shield of Minerva and contained the brains of peacock and pheasants, tongues of flamingos, the liver of pike, and blood of lamprey.

    In this blog I share my historical culinary research, experiments, adventures and discoveries with you. Here you can find historical recipes, articles about food history and information about forgotten cookbooks, ingredients and flavors. Enjoy reading & cooking!

    Exotic Animal Business in Ancient Rome

    In 247 AD, the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of Rome according to their AUC calendar, the State presented the Romans with an orgy of blood in the Colosseum: 1,000 pairs of gladiators fought and died. 32 elephants, 10 tigers, 60 lions, 30 leopards, 10 hyenas, 10 giraffes, 20 wild asses, 40 wild boars, 10 zebra, 1 rhinoceros and 6 hippopotami were killed.For wild animal hunts (Lat. venationes), the entire arena in the Colosseum was landscaped to resemble a lush jungle. Lions, leopards, bears, wild boars, jaguars, panthers, ostriches, tigers, ibex, rhinos, wild sheep, elephants and any animal that was not tame and was foreign and unusual was captured, presented to the Roman people for their pleasure and then “hunted” and killed. Roman ships sailed to Africa and Asia to hunt exotic animals for the venationes.

    From the Great Hunt Mosaic showing the capture and transportation from Africa to Rome of the wild animals for the circus games (The Villa Romana del Casale)

    Many people were involved in the business of procuring exotic animals for the popular wild animal hunts in the Colosseum, among whom was the orator and statesman Cicero (106-43 BC) who saw nothing strange about capturing wild animals to be killed in the Circus Maximus or the Colosseum.

    In fact, his friend Rufus constantly asked him to provide pantherae for all the games. Pantherae was generic for leopards, lions, jaguars or panthers. Cicero was at this time governor of Cilicia in Asia Minor (Turkey) and had access to people whose business it was to hunt and sell wild animals. Cicero wrote to Rufus:

    “About the panthers, the usual hunters are doing their best on my instructions. But the creatures are in remarkably short supply….the matter is receiving close attention, especially from Patiscus….Whatever comes to hand will be yours, but what that amounts to I simply do not know.” Letters 2.11.2

    Even though Cicero was making a lot of sesterces by being a middle man in the capturing and shipping of animals to be killed in the hunts, he seemed to have had a few qualms when he actually saw a hunt:

    “The rest of the hunt took place twice a day for five days. They were magnificent, nobody denies that. But what pleasure can there be for a civilized man when either some powerless man (a Christian perhaps?) is ripped to shreds by a powerful beast or some magnificent animal is transfixed by a spear?” Letters 7.1.1-3Obviously Cicero became a “civilized man” once he saw what happened to the animals he supplied.

    There was another nameless man, the owner of the now-famous Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, Sicily. The mosaic floors and walls of his massive Villa cover 37,673.69 square feet of well-preserved mosaics related to hunting, capturing and shipping back to Rome hundreds of wild animals from Africa and India.

    Design of the Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily

    The wealthy owner of this country villa obviously liked to hunt locally, also, because many of the mosaics depict Roman scenes of hunting with their dogs and friends. His children liked to hunt rabbits.

    The Roman ritual of young manhood (perhaps his teenage son?) was the killing of his first boar.The 4th century owner of the Villa, let’s call him Argenteus, made so much money in his “foreign animals business” and added so many rooms and mosaics to his grand Villa that almost two thousand years later these varied early 300’s AD mosaics, inside and even outside the Villa, have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Villa and mosaics have been so well-preserved because a landslide in the 12th century covered it all.

    Personification of Egypt and South Asia in a Villa del Casale mosaic: Elephant and Tiger—Notice the emphasis on the valuable ivory in elephant’s horns. Segment from Ambulacro della Grande Cachia—Notice the hunters’ shields as “protection” against the wild animals.

    Early in the 19th Century, pieces of mosaics and some columns were found at the Villa.The first official archaeological excavations were carried out later in that century. They found the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world. This swath of a floor (right) is only a small segment of one mosaic.

    The mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale are so detailed and “true to life” one wonders if the owner of the Villa actually went with his men to Africa and Asia and participated in the Hunt.

    An Egyptian Christian monk named Telemachus visited the Roman Colosseum for the first time in 404 AD. He was appalled by all the slaughter and all the blood shed in the gladiator “games.” He began to shout aloud over and over again, “Cease this in the name of Christ!” The Roman mob stoned him to death.

    The Christian Emperor Honorius was convicted and issued a ban on all gladiator fights several days later on January 1, 404 AD. But events involving animals, the venationes, continued until 523 AD. And so did the profitable business of procuring exotic, wild animals for the Roman “games.”— Sandra Sweeny Silver

    Detail of a Roman floor mosaic showing a boar hunt, 3rd century.

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    Europe Timeline

    The 'Venus' of Willendorf is one of the most famous carvings from Europe's Palaeolithic period. Its extremely corpulent figure and emphasis on the female reproductive anatomy and lack of facial features have long inspired speculation that its function was as a fertility figure. Read more.

    21,000 BC

    Stylized female figurines made of mammoth ivory from Maltá, Siberia are representative of portable carvings found over a wide region stretching from Western Europe to North and Central Asia, suggesting cultural exchange over these vast areas. Read more.

    C. 13,000 BC–c. 11,000 BC

    The images of horses, bison, mammoth and other local animals painted on the walls of a cave at Lascaux are not only among the earliest known examples of painting found in Europe, but they are also striking for the keen observation and skilful rendering of their animal subjects. Read more.

    C. 7000 BC

    Small, portable carvings of animals such as elk, bear and wild boar are made in Denmark and southern Sweden of materials such as amber. Read more.

    C. 5000 BC

    The earliest known pottery in Europe, produced by the Linear Pottery culture in Central Europe, is decorated with incised lines, a technique that spread throughout much of Europe. Read more.

    C. 3200 BC–c. 1600 BC

    Stonehenge, the awe-inspiring circle of massive stones topped by lintels arranged according to astronomical configurations, is unique among Neolithic sites in Europe and was built and rebuilt in several phases. Read more.

    C. 3000 BC–c. 2500 BC

    Stones used to construct the Neolithic tombs at Newgrange, Ireland are decorated with an extensive array of complex geometric patterns. Read more.

    2300 BC

    Highly stylized white marble figurines, usually depictions of women with simplified geometric shapes for bodies and almost no facial features, are made on the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea. The stream-lined appearance of these statues has appealed to and influenced modern artists and viewers. Read more.

    C. 2150 BC–c. 1300 BC

    The massive Palace at Knossos on the island of Crete is built to serve political, economic, religious and social functions. The word labyrinth comes from the name given to the palace, with its complex layout, by Greek visitors. Reconstructed murals from the palace walls reveal the Minoan fondness for colourful and lively pictorial decoration. Read more.

    C. 2000 BC–c. 1900 BC

    Among the Minoan potters' finest achievements is the so-called Kamares ware, which is in demand throughout the eastern Mediterranean world. These utilitarian containers are characterized by colourful geometric patterns painted exhuberantly and dramatically against a black-slip background. Read more.

    C. 1650 BC–c. 1450 BC

    Two gold cups, made by Minoan craftsmen but found in a tomb at Vapheio near Sparta, are decorated with scenes of muscular bulls and heroes, creating a sense of power that is in contrast to the containers' diminuitive size. Read more.

    C. 1500 BC–c. 1450 BC

    A flask from Palaikastro, vibrantly painted in the Marine style, celebrates the Minoan civilization's close connection with the sea and the peak of their maritime power. Small sea creatures swim energetically in between the tentacles of a large octopus, which fan out over the surface of the flask. Read more.

    C. 1400 BC–c. 1300 BC

    A short wool skirt found in the grave of a young girl in Egtved exemplifies the practice of weaving in Bronze Age Denmark. Read more.

    C. 1300 BC–c. 1200 BC

    One of the most visually striking and technically complex works from Europe's Bronze Age is the ceremonial statue of a horse pulling a chariot bearing a gilded sun disk found in Trundholm, Sweden. Read more.

    800 BC–700 BC

    Vases by the Dipylon Master form one of the high-points in the development of the ancient Greek Geometric painting style. Set amid bands of key fret and geometric patterns are human figures, themselves reduced to abstracted assemblies of shapes. Read more.

    C. 600 BC–ca. 520 BC

    Greek sculptors create free-standing statues of striding, nude males (kouroi) that effectively convey volume, movement and heroic physiques. Read more.

    C. 600 BC–c. 500 BC

    Ancient Etruscans placed portraits of the deceased modelled in terracotta on top of their sarcophagi. These figures, which are painted and often depict a couple, are striking for their animation, individuality and cheerful expressions. Read more.

    C. 540 BC–c. 520 BC

    Exekias paints a drinking cup with a scene of the god of wine and merriment Dionysos in a boat surrounded by grapes and dolphins. The rounded sails suggest that they are being blown by the wind, which indicates a new sense of awareness of nature in ancient Greek painting. Read more.

    C. 480 BC

    The Kritios Boy reveals Greek sculptors first attempts to achieve a new degree of naturalism by accurately capturing the shift of weight that takes place throughout the human body when it moves. Read more.

    C. 478 BC–c. 474 BC

    The Delphi Charioteer is one of the most naturalistic bronze statues made in ancient Greece. The drapery of the young aristocratic driver is detailed and falls naturally, his body stands erect as he manoeuvres the reigns and his glass eyes are surrounded by eyelashes of fine pieces of bronze. Read more.

    C. 450 BC–c. 440 BC

    The great Greek sculptor Polykleitos develops a posture in which the statue stands in an asymmetrical pose with the body's weight on one leg, while still maintaining an overall sense of balance and stability. This posture, which is termed contrapposto, is described in the artist's Canon and demonstrated in such sculptures as the Doryphoros ('spear bearer'). Read more.

    447 BC–432 BC

    The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, is built as the primary temple on the Acropolis. Constructed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, the building is a marvel of mathematics and technology. Pheidias, the renowned sculptor and highly effective organizer, supervises and produces a complex sculptural programme of religious and historical scenes to ornament the temple. Read more.

    C. 350 BC

    Praxiteles sculpts Hermes Holding the Infant Dionysos and creates a marble image of the gods that is playful and lovingly interactive. The presence of a supportive strut and the style of Hermes' sandals suggests that the surviving statue is a later copy, which is how many 5th-century BC Greek masterpieces survive to the present. Read more.

    C. 220 BC

    The marble sculpture of the Dying Gaul, a dramatic image of a warrior succumbing to death and defeat, is one of the most poignant ancient works of art. While his thick hair and necklace identify his ethnicity, his powerful physique gives added credit to the invincible Roman army that killed him. Read more.

    C. 200 BC–c. 33 BC

    The Louvre's famous Nike of Samothrace is carved out of marble in Greece to celebrate the winged personification of Victory. Samothrace refers to the island on which the statue is discovered in 1863. Read more.

    C. 150 BC–c. 120 BC

    Many great ancient Greek masterpieces, such as the marble Venus de Milo in the Louvre, survive only as copies made by Roman craftsmen. When Greek statues and other works of art are imported into Rome, they spark such enthusiasm that local sculptors produce copies to satisfy market demands. Read more.

    C. 100 BC

    Mosaic-makers of Pompeii produce elaborately detailed pictures with millions of small marble pieces. The earliest examples are derived from Greek paintings, such as Philoxenos' 4th-century BC depiction of the Battle of Alexander the Great and Darius III. Read more.

    C. 100 BC–50 BC

    The Romans build an aqueduct that consists of three tiers of arches across the River Gardon in south-eastern France. This large bridge survives nearly intact today and is known as the Pont du Gard. Read more.

    C. 75 BC

    The Great Torc, a thick rope-like necklace made of gold and found in Snettisham, England exemplifies Celtic ornaments made of metal and decorated with elaborate geometric designs that may have been made for personal use or as an offering to the gods. Read more.

    C. 75 BC

    Ancient Rome's greatest amphitheatre, the elliptical Colosseum, is built to accommodate between 45,000 and 73,000 viewers for the gladiatorial games and contests between men and beasts. Read more.

    C. 75 BC–50 BC

    Romans honour respected members of society by commissioning and displaying their portraits in public places. These images, such as the marble statue of a wrinkled old patrician with a bulbous nose and worried expression, are usually extremely realistic. Read more.

    C. 60 BC

    Pompeii's Villa of Mysteries is decorated with wall paintings that use such painting devices as shading and perspective to create the illusion of mythological figures set among architectural elements. Read more.

    C. 19 BC

    Emperor Augustus effectively employs architecture and sculpture to legitimize and glorify his reign. His imposing statue at Prima Porta develops a new iconography in which small appliquéd images of deities and conquered enemies adorn his battle armour. Read more.

    C. AD 5–c. AD 25

    The Portland Vase is the best-known example of cameo glass from antiquity. Probably made in Rome from white glass overlaying deep blue glass, the romantic scene indicates the vase may originally have been a wedding gift. Read more.

    AD 100–AD 200

    Artisans in distant regions of the Roman Empire, such as Gaul and Britain, employ Roman techniques to make ornate and intricate silver tableware. Read more.

    AD 113

    Trajan's Column, set in the Forum of Trajan–Rome's largest forum–celebrates the victorious battles of Emperor Trajan with a long narrative of his military conquests that spirals up the surface of the column. Trajan himself is depicted 60 times in this visual history. Read more.

    AD 118–AD 125

    Emperor Hadrian commissions the building of the Pantheon to revere the Roman gods. This concrete structure, which is one of the chief accomplishments of Roman architects, consists of a circular domed temple and a rectangular entry porch. Read more.

    AD 122–AD 128

    Hadrian's Wall is constructed across 50 kilometres of the British countryside to defend the Roman Empire's northern frontier. Read more.

    C. AD 150–c. AD 250

    The painting of the Good Shepherd on the walls of the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome typifies the preference for scenes from the Old and New Testaments as decoration for early Christian places of burial and worship. Read more.

    AD 161–AD 180

    The bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius depicting the emperor astride his war horse exemplifies developments in Roman sculpture styles which exaggerate the subject's facial expressions and uses deeper carving to create effects of shading and light. Read more.

    C. AD 300

    The relief sculpture of the Tetrarchs, set into the corner of the façade of the cathedral of S Marco in Venice, is a study in political art. Echoing the royal perogative to wear purple cloth, the material used is porphyry, a purple stone imported from Egypt. The political unity of the four rulers of the Roman Empire is expressed by the hands that clasp each other, while their other hands hold their swords, representing their bravery and military might. Read more.

    AD 313–AD 330

    A basilica is built over the tomb of the apostle Peter in Rome to honour the Christian saint. Over the centuries St Peter's is greatly expanded beyond its origins as a place for common prayer and burial. Read more.

    C. AD 400–c. AD 550

    Taking advantage of stocks of elephant tusks and skilled craftsmen, Early Christian icons depicting saints and sacred narrative scenes are carved onto ivory plaques. Read more.

    C. AD 425–c. AD 450

    The Vatican Virgil is one of the earliest known Latin Bibles. Produced in Rome, the illustrations follow an illusionistic style and resemble Roman Christian mosaics of the period. Read more.

    C. AD 450–c. AD 500

    One of the earliest Christian basilicas in France is rebuilt on the burial and pilgrimage site of St Martin in Tours, replacing the original church constructed just after the death of St Martin in AD 397. Read more.

    C. AD 450–c. AD 750

    Glassmaking, having been established in France under the Romans, continues to prosper under the Merovingians, with such new forms emerging as the 'claw beaker' decorated with blobs of molten glass. Merovingian glass is exported widely and up until the 7th century AD these highly prized vessels are often included in burials. Read more.

    C. AD 546–c. AD 547

    Emperor Justinian and his retinue are shown in full majesty in the opulent mosaic on the walls of S Vitale in Ravenna. Justinian's rule, marked by enthusiastic art patronage, is considered the first golden age of Byzantine art. Read more.

    C. AD 625

    A high-ranking man is entombed in a burial-ship with an abundant supply of jewellery, metal vessels and armour. When this grave at Sutton Hoo in England is discovered in 1939 it provides one of the most important assemblies of early Anglo-Saxon art and trade goods. Read more.

    C. AD 698

    The Latin Lindisfarne Gospels are written and illustrated at a monastery on an island in Northumbria, England. The illustrations combine striking geometric patterns with figural images inspired by Mediterranean prototypes. Read more.

    C. AD 750-c. AD 800

    The Book of Kells is one of the most elaborately illustrated versions of the Latin Gospels produced in the British Isles and combines Christian iconography that originated in the Mediterranean region with a local fondness for exhuberant and dense decoration and colour. Read more.

    AD 769-AD 787

    Charlemagne builds a great palace complex in Aachen that reveals the strong influence of Roman architecture a reflection of Charlemagne's political aspiration to be regarded as a Roman emporer. Read more.

    C. AD 800

    Monumental stones are incised with scenes of ships and battles at Gotland in Scandinavia. Related to Viking burial practices, these scenes are thought to represent the journey to the afterlife in Valhalla. Read more.

    C. AD 880

    The Carolingian Lindau Gospels are produced in Switzerland and covered with an elaborately decorated gold plaque inlaid depicting the Crucifixion and inlaid with gemstones. Read more.

    C. 1000

    The Gospels of Otto III are produced on the island of Reichenau, Germany. Included among the accomplished illustrations of New Testament text is a presumed portrait of the emperor. The cover is decorated with a Byzantine ivory plaque. Read more.

    The Cathedral of St Sophia in Kiev is founded. Modelled on Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, St Sophia's design diverges in the addition of 13 domes symbolizing Christ and his 12 apostles a practice probably inspired by local Russian wooden architecture. Read more.

    C. 1063

    Doge Domenico Contarini orders the reconstruction of the basilica of S Marco to reflect the new wealth and power of Venice. This building's architecture and elaborate mosaic programme blends Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic features. Read more.


    The Bayeux Tapestry is embroidered, probably in England, with an illustration of the Battle of Hastings. Not only is this textile an important early work of art but it is also a valuable historical document, as the military events are described in abundant detail. Read more.

    C. 1080–1100

    The awe-inspiring mosaic portrait of Christ Pantokrator in the central dome of the katholikon in Dafni, Greece presents a stern and powerful judge, as well as saviour, rendered in dark stones against a glimmering gold ground. Read more.

    The immense third church constructed at Cluny, mother church of the powerful Benedictine monastic order, sets a new standard of size in early Romanesque architecture. Read more.

    C. 1125

    Church porches, such as the one at St Pierre in Moissac, decorated with complex figural scenes are one of the primary innovations of Romanesque art and represent the earliest examples of large architectural sculpture in Europe since ancient times. Read more.

    C. 1131

    Painted by a Byzantine artist and taken to Kiev, the Virgin Eleousa, also called the 'Virgin of Vladimir', is one of the early icon paintings in Russia, establishing a tradition that continues long beyond the fall of the Byzantine empire in 1453. This painting is taken to Moscow in 1395 to protect the city from invasion by the Mongols. Read more.

    C. 1150

    King Suryavarman II builds the magnificent temple-mountain of Angkor Vat, dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and expressive of his own position as god-king. Read more.

    Reconstruction begins on the Saint-Denis Abbey Church, near Paris by Abbot Suger, transforming it into the first full example of Gothic architecture. This shrine, which is the burial place of the first bishop of Paris, becomes the main monastery, treasury and burial place of French royalty. Read more.

    Construction of the famed Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris begins. Eventually this soaring structure comes to epitomize Gothic architecture, boasts the first use of the architectural technique of flying buttresses and for a long time it is the tallest building in the Western world. Read more.

    An eight-storey bell-tower is built next to the cathedral in Pisa. Because it sits on marshy land, the tower begins to tilt during construction, which the architect tries in vain to rectify. Read more.

    After a fire in 1194, Chartres Cathedral is rebuilt. The elaborate programme of brightly coloured stained glass includes religious and historical scenes, as well as images of common people at work. Read more.

    C. 1198

    Master goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun creates the Three Kings' shrine, bringing a renewed interest in classicism to a structure made of exquisite gilded bronze, silver, gemstones and enamel. Read more.

    The exterior of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims is decorated with a great many sculptures, many of which depict the Virgin Mary, reflecting the increased attention being paid to the mother of Jesus. The sculptures reveal a heightened sense of movement and interaction that foretells the greater realism of later Gothic art. Read more.


    Italian painter and mosaicist Cimabue paints Virgin and Child Enthroned in which he combines aspects of Byzantine painting traditions with an interest in volume and human emotions that influences later artists. Read more.

    The Cathedral of S Maria del Fiore in Florence, with its soaring dome and classical forms and construction techniques, is one of the earliest precursors of the Renaissance style in Italy. Read more.


    In the frescoes he paints for the Arena Chapel in Padua, the Florentine painter Giotto develops a new naturalism and emphasis on emotion that exerts a strong and lasting influence. Read more.


    The richly illustrated prayer book known as the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux, is made for the use of the Queen of France during her daily private devotions. Read more.

    The Limbourg brothers begin the brilliantly coloured and highly detailed Très Riches Heures (Book of Hours) for the illustrious patron Jean, Duc de Berry. Left unfinished at the time of the deaths of the duke and the artists, it is completed by later masters. Read more.


    Andrey Rublyov, one of Russia's most talented and influential religious painters, depicts three archangels with Abraham in his Old Testament Trinity. Read more.

    C. 1427

    Masaccio produces some of the earliest Italian Renaissance paintings, such as the frescoes painted for the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. His paintings incorporate classical proportions and express complex emotions. Read more.

    Jan van Eyck paints the full-length portraits of Giovanni Arnolfini and Giovanna Cenami, two of his wealthy patrons. An example of van Eyck's mature work, the painting is highly polished, full of symbolism and treats light and shadow in a sophisticated and consistent manner. Read more.

    Filippo Brunelleschi completes the ribbed dome of Florence Cathedral and creates a structure of unprecedented size and design. Read more.

    Angelo Borovier takes over the family glassmaking business in Murano, Italy and invents several new types of glassware, including cristallo, lattimo and chalcedony. Read more.

    Lorenzo Ghiberti, a versatile Renaissance artist and foremost bronze-caster of his day, completes his masterpiece the Gates of Paradise, the east doors of the Baptistery in Florence. In these panels Ghiberti not only develops a new form of pictorial narrative in low relief but also merges idealism and realism. Read more.

    Johann Gutenberg produces the first printed Bible using movable, metal type. Read more.

    C. 1459

    Drawing on a lifetime of studying Roman statues and observing the human form, Donatello casts his innovative statue of a nude David for his patron Cosimo de' Medici. Read more.

    Lorenzo 'the Magnificent' de' Medici assumes power in Florence and gathers to his court the period's best philosophers, poets and artists, including Botticelli and Michelangelo. Read more.


    Martin Schongauer creates the Temptation of Saint Anthony and contributes significantly to the development of the art of engraving and its expressive potential as an artistic medium. Read more.

    C. 1478

    Sandro Botticelli paints Primavera, which draws its imagery from contemporary vernacular love poetry and is a manifestation of the learning and culture espoused at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent in Florence. Read more.


    The current Cathedral of the Annunciation is built in Moscow and serves Russia's princes and later tsars. While incorporating a number of innovative features, the cathedral, with its brick domes and cross-shape layout, is typical of other churches built in the region during the period. Read more.

    C. 1498–1550

    Large, elaborately woven tapestries, such as the Lady and the Unicorn series, are made and used in great numbers during the late medieval and Renaissance periods to decorate and insulate castles and churches. Read more.

    Albrecht Dürer, one of Germany's most accomplished, versatile and influential artists, paints his last and most arresting self-portrait in which he presents an idealized version of himself and promotes the recognition of artists as creators rather than craftsmen. Read more.

    C. 1500

    Andrea Mantegna paints Dead Christ, a work ground-breaking in its use of dramatic foreshortening and overwhelming emotion. Read more.


    Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa, perhaps the world's most well-known painting. Leonardo combines expressive painting techniques with keen observation and attention to the human form and psyche to create one of the Renaissance period's most evocative portraits. Read more.

    C. 1504

    Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch paints the Garden of Earthly Delights, which employs fantastic and disturbing imagery to warn against the evils of human error. Read more.


    Raphael, one of the foremost painters of the Italian Renaissance, executes for the private quarters in the Vatican the School of Athens, an intellectually complex fresco depicting an assembly of ancient sages. Read more.

    C. 1512–1515

    Matthias Grünewald paints panels for a sculpted altarpiece in the Chapel of Antonines at Isenheim, creating one of the most important paintings of the German Renaissance. The dark and contorted image of Christ is one of the most gruesome Crucifixion scenes. Read more.

    Hans Holbein the younger, the most important painter of the English court, paints several portraits of the Tudor royal family, including sumptuous and regal paintings of Henry VIII. Read more.


    Michelangelo creates a striking and poweful representation of the human form when he paints the Last Judgement on the wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Read more.

    Titian, one of the most versatile artists of his time, paints the Venus of Urbino for the private rooms of his patron the Duke of Urbino. While the subject of Venus is drawn from classical mythology and her flawless appearance is idealized, her attitude, accoutrements and environment lends a human quality to the portrait that is erotic and worldly. Read more.


    Agnolo Bronzino executes technically superlative, highly rational and refined portraits for his patrons, the most important of which is Cosimo I de' Medici. Read more.


    Tsar Ivan IV (the Terrible) gives thanks for his military victories by building the Cathedral of St Basil. Dedicated to the eight saints whom he believed assisted him, the church consists of eight stone chapels around a central unifying tower. Read more.

    C. 1568

    Peter Bruegel the elder paints the Peasant Wedding, in which he describes with great attention to detail and fidelity a boisterous weddingfeast. Bruegel is among the first to emphasize daily life and seasonal landscapes over religious themes. Read more.

    El Greco's distinctive painting style reflects the diverse traditions that influenced him, notably the mystical quality of Byzantine religious paintings, the bold colour of Venetian art and the dynamic compositions of Roman Mannerism. His masterpiece, the Burial of Count Orgaz, combines these attributes in a complex and visionary scene. Read more.

    Caravaggio paints the Martyrdom of St Matthew and develops a bold style for religious paintings that creates three-dimensional settings for dramatic scenes that emphasize the humanity of saints and martyrs. Read more.

    C. 1613

    Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the earliest female artists to achieve recognition and influence, paints her best-known and most violent image, Judith Beheading Holofernes. She is especially well known for her dramatic history paintings. Read more.


    The most famous sculptor of the 17th century, Gianlorenzo Bernini carves his Apollo and Daphne, in which he brings to life the moment that Daphne turns herself into a laurel tree to escape the affections of the pursuing god. Read more.

    C. 1638

    Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens paints The Garden of Love, one of his late and fully-realized pictures of a theme drawn from Classical literature set in a complex outdoor tableau. Read more.

    Rembrandt produces one of his most famous paintings, the 'Night Watch', in which he succeeds in rendering a commissioned portrait of local militiamen as an arresting historical drama. Read more.

    Working for the Spanish court, Diego Velázquez paints his masterpiece Las Meninas, in which he depicts members of the royal family, their attendants and himself with his characteristic acute sense of observation. Read more.

    Johannes Vermeer paints Girl with a Pearl Earring and imbues the portrait with delicacy and stillness, as well as emphasising the effect of light. Read more.

    Louis XIV orders the construction of a new palace at Versailles, outside Paris. The massive and ornately decorated buildings, myriad sculptures and lavish gardens all underscore the grandeur of the Sun King. Read more.

    The influential Salon is established in Paris at the Palais du Louvre and exhibits paintings and sculptures chosen by members of the Académie Royale. Read more.

    The Royal Academy of Arts opens in England and becomes one of the most important professional art schools and exhibiting galleries in Europe, introducing new artists to potential patrons and setting official standards. Read more.


    Jean-Honoré Fragonard creates a series of technically accomplished figure paintings known collectively as figures de fantaisie, in which he sets models, many of whom were famous individuals, in settings with distinctive yet varied moods. Read more.

    The most important painter in 18th-century France, Jacques-Louis David, dramatizes the assassination of the revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat in his bath with a stark and cold portrait. Read more.

    English poet, painter and printmaker William Blake produces The Ancient of Days as the frontispiece of his illustrated epic poem Europe: A Prophecy. Blake combines his writings and pictures, which he calls 'illuminated printing', into philosophical and prophetic compositions. Read more.

    Francisco de Goya immortalizes the Spanish resistance to French occupation with Third of May 1808, in which he focuses the viewer's attention on the heroism and agony of those about to be executed by flooding them with a bright, white light. Read more.

    Grande Odalisque reveals Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres's exceptional ability to render the details and textures of the clothing and accessories that surround his models. Read more.

    Théodore Gericault depicts the horrendous events of a shipwreck in the Raft of the Medusa, an early Romantic composition that unflinchingly represents human suffering and man's struggle against the forces of nature. Read more.

    Depicting an actual historical event in an allegorical manner, Eugène Delacroix celebrates the heroism of a group of freedom-fighters in the July Revolution, a three-day battle calling for a republic. Ironically, Liberty Leading the People is later purchased by the aristocrat who is chosen to lead the constitutional monarchy. Read more.

    Honoré Daumier protests against the brutality of the French government with his lithograph Rue Transnonain. Throughout his career he paints and draws satirical cartoons and coldly observant depictions of the poor. Read more.

    Artist Louis Daguerre produces one of the first workable photographic processes, which he terms the daguerreotype. Read more.

    J. M. W. Turner completes his last masterpiece the Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her Last Berth to Be Broken up, which fully reveals his experimental painting techniques and belief that landscapes and seascapes could convey a wide range of ideas and emotions. Read more.


    Giving expression to his own political views, Gustave Courbet paints a large composition of peasants and commoners presented frankly and directly in A Burial at Ornans. This is one of the compositions that leads to the development of Realism in French painting. Read more.

    When The Gleaners is displayed at the Paris Salon, Jean-François Millet is praised by some for the beauty and simplicity of the labouring rural women, while others condemn Millet for his stark image of poverty and his implied political challenge. Read more.

    Edouard Manet shocks Paris audiences with Déjeuner sur l'herbe, which places nude females in a frank and challenging setting with clothed men of leisure. This and other paintings condemned by the official Salon are exhibited in the newly established Salon des Refusés. Read more.

    Incorporating his ideas of nature, expressionistic brushwork and the effect of frequent travels throughout Europe, Camille Corot paints Souvenir of Mortefontaine. Read more.

    After trade is re-established in 1854, Japanese goods begin entering Europe. The World's Fair in Paris presents the first formal exhibition of Japanese arts and crafts in the West and inspires many European painters to develop new techniques and painting effects in a movement known as Japonisme. Read more.


    Il'ya Repin, one of the foremost Russian Realist painters, creates his large work, the Volga Boatmen. While revealing the inhuman conditions under which the men toil, he celebrates their perseverance and ushers in a new Russian movement of genre painting. Read more.

    Auguste Rodin casts The Thinker as part of a commission for a museum that was never built. Meant to represent the great author Dante, the statue is made as part of the larger composition the Gates of Hell. Read more.

    James McNeill Whistler paints his famously expressive Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, which prompts the critic John Ruskin to describe Whistler as 'flinging a pot of paint in the face of the public'. Whistler successfully sues Ruskin only to be nearly bankrupted when he is awarded one farthing damages and faces huge legal costs. Read more.


    Edward Burne-Jones, one of the second generation of Pre-Raphaelite artists, paints such works as the Wheel of Fortune, inspired by ancient tales and myths but with a modern, highly polished appearance. Read more.

    The modernity, gaiety and light that suffuses Auguste Renoir's Le Moulin de la Galette are all characteristics features of Impressionism. Read more.

    C. 1876

    Although he disliked the term, Edgar Degas is considered one of the founders of Impressionism. He is especially associated with depicting ballerinas in oils, pastels, bronze and clay. Read more.

    John Singer Sargent, the most fashionable painter in the USA and England in the late 19th century, paints a scandalous portrait, known as Madame X, of a famous Parisian beauty. Read more.

    Georges Seurat invents the technique known as Pointillism used in such paintings as La Grande Jette. His juxtaposition of minute dots that the eye blends together at a distance makes use of modern theories about colour. Read more.

    Vincent van Gogh paints one of his best-known and most expressive works, Starry Night. Read more.

    Engineers Gustave Eiffel and Maurice Koechlin construct a 300-metre-tall iron tower, which is now known as the Eiffel Tower, for the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Read more.

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec produces his first poster of a Parisian nightclub, Moulin Rouge, La Goulue. This image immediately becomes popular throughout Paris and Toulouse-Lautrec's success helps increase the value of posters. Read more.

    Norwegian painter Edvard Munch paints The Scream, one of his highly emotional studies of fear, relationships and death. Read more.

    C. 1893

    Paul Cézanne, who is not very successful in his lifetime, seeks to add solidity to his images by emphasizing their geometric forms, a trait especially visible in his still-lifes. His challenge to the approach of the Impressionists ushers in the Post-Impressionist movement. Read more.

    Paul Gauguin summarizes his career by exploring the three ages of human life in Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? His subject of native women and their environment is based on his years living in Polynesia. Read more.

    Henri Matisse, the principal protagonist of Fauvism, paints Dinner Table (Harmony in Red). Read more.

    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the German architect, builds the German Pavilion for the Exposición Internacional in Barcelona, creating one of the most important buildings of the Modern Movement. Read more.

    Spanish Catalan artist Salvador Dalí paints landmark Surrealist painting, The Persistence of Memory. Read more.

    Meret Oppenheim creates the quintessential Surrealist work with Object, a fur-covered teacup that conveys the evocative yet uneasy effect of Surrealism. Read more.

    Printed from Oxford Art Online. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

    Dear Kitty. Some blog

    This video says about itself:

    14 January 2008

    A short film about Roman mosaics. The film shows a series of Roman mosaics and information about their construction.

    Ancient Roman Mosaic Found in Tuscany

    Oct 6, 2015 02:30 PM ET // by Rossella Lorenzi

    Italian archaeologists digging in a small Tuscan village have unearthed part of what they believe is a large and impressive ancient Roman mosaic.

    Laying in a private property next to a local road in the village Capraia e Limite, the mosaic features two different designs. One, dating to the second half of the 4th century AD, features geometric patterns framed by floral motifs, the other, dating to the 5th century AD, boasts octagons decorated with animals, flowers and a human bust.

    The large mosaic graced the floor of a luxurious Roman villa that stood in the Tuscan countryside for four centuries, from the 1st to the beginning of the 6th century AD.

    “Evidence of this villa was first found in 1983, when workers digging to build an orchard unearthed some black and white mosaic fragments and, most interestingly, an inscription mentioning one of the owners of the complex,” Lorella Alderighi of the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany, told Discovery News.

    The inscribed slab of stone referred to Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, one of the most famous pagan senators of the later fourth century AD. He came from an ancient and noble family and died in 384 while serving as the praetorian prefect at the court of Emperor Valentinian II.

    It is well known that Vettius Agorius Praetextatus owned villas in Tuscany — and liked them very much.

    “The Roman statesman and orator Quintus Aurelius Symmachus even complained in his letters that Vettius enjoyed too much opium in his estates in Etruria, instead of dealing with politics in Rome,” Federico Cantini, the archaeologist of the University of Pisa who led the dig, told Discovery News.

    Built in the first century, the villa in Capraia e Limite had its most glorious time in the 4th century AD, when Vettius Agorius Praetextatus rebuilt it according to luxurious standards. By the beginning of the 6th century AD it was completely abandoned and plundered.

    “Luckily, they could not remove the mosaics,” Alderighi said.

    Excavations in 2013 brought to light a stunning oval mosaic with a wild boar hunting scene which dates to the second half of the 4th century AD.

    Because of legal issues and lack of funding, the mosaic was covered soon after its discovery in order to preserve it. The finding prompted new archaeological investigations.

    “We speculated the mosaic floor extends further, thus we tested the hypothesis with a survey dig,” Cantini said.

    The excavation proved Cantini and his team were right.

    Parts of two floor mosaics came to light. The older one consisted of geometric patterns framed by red decorations with acanthus and vine leaves in various shades of grey, blue and black. The other displayed scenes with animals, flowers, geometric patterns framed by octagons. Catching the attention at the center of one of such octagons, is the bust of a man with a tunic and large eyes.

    “We believe it is not a portrait, but just a decoration,” Alderighi said.

    According to the archaeologists, the investigated portion of the villa had an hexagonal structure with rooms opening onto a central hall.

    “We estimate the size of the floor mosaic to be about 300 square meters (984 square feet). We only have unearthed one-eighth of it,” Cantini said.

    Unfortunately, most of the mosaic lies beneath an industrial shed. Although the archaeologists believe the artwork is still intact, it is unlikely it will be brought to light in the near future.

    The newly unearthed mosaics have been already covered for preservation — just like the mosaic with the hunting scene.

    “Our goal is to open these beautiful artworks to the public. We are working to make this happen,” Alessandro Giunti, mayor of Capraia e Limite, said.

    He added that the first mosaic to be restored and displayed will be the one showing the wild boar hunting scene.


    Posted By: Sukanya Mukherjee October 10, 2015

    The region of Tuscany in Italy has long been known for its green rolling landscapes, high culture and historical heritage. Pertaining to the last part, archaeologists have unearthed part of a large ancient Roman mosaic with incredible details, while digging in an area close to a local road (in the small village of Capraia e Limite). Probably dating from the latter part of 4th century AD, the mosaic flaunts its exquisite geometric patterns combined with ‘organic’ motifs. And judging by its position, the expansive artwork was arranged along the floor of a ritzy Roman villa that existed for around 500 years, from 1st century to early 6th century AD.

    Interestingly, the evidence of a large villa existing in the region was found way back in 1983, when workers, excavating the site for creating an orchard, accidentally uncovered pieces of black and white mosaic, with the name of the estate owner inscribed on one of the fragments. According to Lorella Alderighi, a researcher at the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany, the villa belonged to Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, a well-known pagan aristocrat who served as the praetorian prefect under Emperor Vallentinian II, until his death in the year 384. Coming from a wealthy, noble family, Vettius owned several magnificent villas in and around Tuscany. Federico Cantini, the leader of the excavation team and an archaeologist at the University of Pisa, added:

    The Roman statesman and orator Quintus Aurelius Symmachus even complained in his letters that Vettius enjoyed too much opium in his estates in Etruria, instead of dealing with politics in Rome.

    Originally built in the first century, the Capraia e Limite villa was remodeled and expanded in the 4th century AD, under the instruction of the then owner, Vettius Agorius Praetextatus. By the 6th century AD, the building was completely deserted and even plundered. The discovery of the ancient mosaic fragment, in 1983, sparked new archaeological investigation. Unfortunately, lack of adequate funding and legal issues prevented the researchers from conducting thorough examination of the site. Consequently, they had to return the mosaic to its original location, as a way of preserving it. Cantini said:

    We speculated the mosaic floor extends further, thus we tested the hypothesis with a survey dig.

    The archaeologists found two different mosaic designs: the first, dating to the second half of the 4th century AD, contained various geometric patterns enclosed within ornate frames of vine leaves and acanthus, in blue, black and grey. The second segment, likely created in the 5th century AD, depicted animals, flowers and even the bust of a man wearing a chiton. Cantini said:

    We estimate the size of the floor mosaic to be about 300 square meters (984 square feet). We only have unearthed one-eighth of it.

    A major portion of the mosaic currently lies underneath an industrial shed. Therefore, unearthing the entire thing might prove to be difficult. Of the sections that have already been uncovered, the one containing the wild boar hunting scene will be the first to be publicly showcased. The mayor of Capraia e Limite, Alessandro Giunti said:

    Our goal is to open these beautiful artworks to the public. We are working to make this happen.


  1. Zafir

    Yes, almost the same thing.

  2. Akule

    It was specially registered at a forum to participate in discussion of this question.

  3. Lueius

    What words ... Great, an excellent idea

  4. Kagabei

    This is a wonderful subject

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