Ostia Antica’s Black and White Mosaics

One of the most beautiful aspects in Ostia Antica is the black and white mosaics that, seemingly, are everywhere.

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A gorgeous tessellation pattern

 

A black and white border

 

A geometric floor pattern

But it is not just the geometric pattern floors that are stunners.  In Ostia Antica, you’ll find gods and goddesses, fanciful sea creatures, and celebrity boxers depicted for all eternity.  In the photo at the top of this post, Neptune (holding his trident) rides through the sea drawn by galloping sea-horses, surrounded by mermen and sea creatures (that giant shrimp looks rather tasty). Appropriately enough, that mosaic graced a bathhouse.

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Venus rises from the sea while someone helpfully hands her a towel

 

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A boxer — his name above him — strikes a pose.  Clearly, he worked out.

 

A figure in flowing robes, looking a bit like the Statue of Liberty.

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A putti rides a dolphin

Ostia was Rome’s most important port, and many of the mosaics demonstrate the importance of commerce at this once bustling city. Some terrific ones are at the the “Forum of the Corporations,” located behind the theater. This is where “corporations” of ship-owners, importers, grain traders, and even wild animal importers had their shops, and indicated their business in the mosaic out front — in short, a permanent business sign, for which no translation would ever be needed.

 

Mosaic of a ship – one of many at Ostia (and a pine cone from one of the umbrella pines)

 

A ship sails by a light house

 

An amphora between two palm trees — perhaps filled with wine, fish sauce, or olive oil?

 

Baskets with what seems to be a scale of some kind, perhaps for the weighing of grain

 

Just in case you needed to buy an elephant

 

This is just a tiny taste of the hundreds of wonderful mosaics still in-situ at Ostia Antica. I can’t recommend a trip to this ancient place highly enough.

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