Nile Mosaic

Nile Mosaic

Date First century BCE

Movement Roman

Medium Mosaic

Dimension approx. 16′

Provenance Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, Praeneste

Housed at Museo Archaeologico Nazionale, Palestrina


This particular work showcases the Romans’ mastery over the mosaic art form. This mosaic was originally laced upon the floor of the entrance to the Praeneste forum, and depicts Alexandria on the Nile River. City life serves as the subject matter in the lower vignettes, and possibly even a specific visit to the city by a Roman general, while the upper scenes depict the wildlife of distant Ethiopia, appearing even further away with the use of atmospheric perspective. Scenes were likely to have been spaced and depicted from different perspectives so as to accommodate the viewer’s experience as they moved across the floor.