The oldest known mosaics have been traced back to the 8th Century BC. These were black and white pebbles which were used by the Greeks to trace foot paths and decorate floor tiles. Following these initial uses of mosaic, the Romans improved the designs and started to use mosaic in a more sophisticated way, as a form of art on walls and floors in halls, villas and public houses.
Early Christian basilicas from the 4th century onwards were decorated with wall and ceiling mosaics. The jews as well as the muslims took on this tradition. Jews used floor mosaics to decorate synagogues in the Middle East during the 5th & 6th centuries. Muslims used mosaic also to decorate some of their most prominent mosques, including the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
One of the most important pieces of mosaic art in the East is the Madaba Map. Its importance stems mainly from the fact that it is the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history. The Madaba Map depicts an area from Lebanon in the North to the Nile Delta in the South, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the West to the Eastern Desert. The largest and most detailed depiction in the map is that of Jerusalem at its center. The map is enriched with depictions of animals, landmarks, roads, and other historical and architectural elements of those times.
Mosaic, like sculpture, is a durable art form that stands the test of time, weather and human touch. When used for decoration in houses, mosaics do not fade or need renewal. When used as an art form to depict a place or a person, mosaic makes this depiction eternal as long as the place where the mosaic is placed lasts.
Glass Mosaic Art
The Greeks started to incorporate glass in their mosaics as early as the 4th century BC. They used some glass tesserae because it was richer in color and provided more light reflection than the stone or pebble tesserae that they had been using. Today, glass mosaic art stands as its own art form and is performed by craftspeople and artists alike.
It is an eternal dance between light and shadow, shape and texture, vivid colors and muted tones that only the passionate and skilled hands can perfect. Colored glass mosaics (or stained glass mosaics) had been exclusively used for windows of churches, mosques and other significant buildings for over a thousand years before they were incorporated into art objects and lamp shades in the twentieth century. One of the most popular forms in which glass mosaic is displayed is the venetian lamp shade, which decorates the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
In Turkey, artists continue to use "came glasswork" as a method to create beautiful lamps, candle holders and chandeliers that create magic atmospheres that can rarely be paralleled with any other.