After looking at this glossary, you will be able to easily recognize mosaic patterns and give name to the typical Roman mosaic adornments.
Swastika meanderThe swastika is a sign of good luck since the ancient times. With strong and straight masculine lines, mosaic makers were using it as a geometric mosaic adornment.
Greek meanderSymbols of eternity and unity, Greek key meanders were common for adornment in Greek and Roman architecture, paintings, pottery and mosaics.
"T" meanderAlternative Meander pattern to the common Greek key.
Broken & Straight meander
Simple guillocheDefining the visual borders of compositions and adding visual movement, the guilloche is one of the most common Roman mosaic patterns made by interlacing 2 moving strand lines.
Cubes in 3d perspectiveCommonly combined with other geometric compositions, 3d cubes were repeatedly appearing on Roman mosaics or as a whole composition itself.
Solomon knotA widely mystified symbol but with most probable origin as a symbol of ancient wool weaving techniques.
CrowstepThis pattern of Greek origin was widely used for early mosaic floors and the more modest designs.
ImbricationUsually made of a colorful palette, this pattern resembles the overlapping of edges found in the nature like those of fish scales and pinecones.
Shield of trianglesVery commonly used together with Medusa mosaics, this geometric patterns creates a very sophisticated optical effect on floors. For example the medusa mosaic in the House of Apuleius.
Floral vault pattern
Star of lozengesCommon decoration when the delimiting lines of mosaic compositions get crossed. Many examples exist, the most significant is the mosaic in the House of Drinking Contest.
PeltaAncient semi-circular shape featured in many Roman mosaics.
Scroll (resembling acanthus or floral)An adornment of feminin forms typically found on Dyonisus or Bacchus mosaics.
Bead and ReelCommon ornamental element of Greek and Roman architecture, also appeared on mosaic adornments.
Wave BandAnother adornment borrowed from Greek arquitecture and pottery.
PalmetteBorrowed from Greek art ornaments, the early Roman mosaic included palmettes as a mosaic pattern.
The below is an interesting example of monochrome fillet. Common fillets are black and white without change of direction.
Wavy Ribbon (Usually 3D)
Roman mosaic patterns are beautiful additions for architectural elements like stair risers or classical friezes.
Please leave us a comment if you recognize any pattern we did not include.