Mosaic floor depicting a dog and a knocked-over gold vessel. Discovered in 1993 during construction of the new Alexandria Library, Egypt. Now currently in the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria. Width: approx. 70 cm. Date: approx. 200-100 BC.
This scene formed the center piece of a large mosaic floor. The quality is fantastic, and this period represents a high point in the mosaic craft in antiquity. Many of the tesserae (the little pieces of stone/glass that make up the floor) are only 1-2mm across, which allows the mosaicist to achieve a painting-like effect. This technique was known in antiquity as opus vermiculatum, or ‘wormy work’.
This is one of my favorite works from antiquity, both for its beauty and superb technique as well as the simplicity and intimacy of the scene.
The photograph is taken from Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth, Princeton University Press (2001).