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Alexander Mosaic

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The mosaic is made of about one and a half million tiny colored tiles called tesserae, arranged in gradual curves called opus vermiculatum, (also known as "worm work," because they seem to replicate the slow motion of a crawling worm). The color scale of Roman mosaics are extremely rich in gradation. The process of gathering materials for mosaics was a complex undertaking since the color scale was based solely on the pieces of marble that could be found in nature. The mosaic is an unusually detailed work for a private residence and was likely commissioned by a wealthy person or family. The fact that this scene was made to be viewed in the house of a Roman civilian reveals that Alexander the Great was more than just a heroic image to the Romans. Because Roman leaders followed after Alexander's image, Roman civilians also aspired to emulate the power he represented. Since the mosaic was arranged on the floor where the patron could receive guests, it was the first decorative object a visitor would see upon entering that room.

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