Lifestyle & CultureMosaic Art

The undeniable influence of the ancient Egyptian mosaic art

(6 min read) Ancient Egypt is famous for its unique approach to artistic expression. From glorious predynastic images inscribed on rock walls to beautifully morbid ritualistic art surrounding the dead, Egyptians were and still are immensely valuable to the cultural heritage of the human race.

Egyptian Mosaic Artwork and Designs
Tutankhamun and Anskhenamun, brilliant artwork.

One of the main strengths of Egyptian art was versatility. Egyptians used a wide array of different materials to express their stands and beliefs through their art. Their search for new and contrasting materials lead them to faraway countries and continents, so some significant import was inevitable. One of the most famous examples of their usage of imported materials is lapis lazuli — a luminous blue stone that originated from the territory of what is today Afghanistan.

Egyptian Mosaic Artwork and Designs - King Tuthankamun
King Tuthankamun’s death mask made of gold and lapis lazuli.

The technique of mosaic making that mosaicists use to this day originated in ancient Egypt. Considering the fact that Egyptian artists were known for their versatility with materials, this comes as no surprise. The nature of mosaic art allows its artists to use almost any type of material that comes to mind. From lapis lazuli to wood, metals, and native stones such as the ubiquitous limestone, calcite, and schist, Egyptian mosaicists used a huge variety of materials to make their mosaics long-lasting, intricate and gorgeous.

Egyptian Mosaic Art and Designs
1500 years old mosaic map of Ancient Egypt.

Egyptians were the first to use tesserae to compose a mosaic picture. Initially, they used simple fragments of various materials in different colors, but they later progressed to coloring the tesserae with pigments and decorating them with gold and precious stones. However, the ancient Egyptians didn’t just stick to what was known and easily accessible when it comes to mosaic-making materials. During the late Hellenistic period, Egyptians started creating the first mosaic glass plates. These glorious pieces of artistic expression exemplify some of the most sophisticated glassmaking techniques in ancient history.

Egyptian Mosaic Art and Designs
Ancient artifacts of Egyptian floral glass inlays.

Preserved Mosaic Artwork
Well preserved mosaic artwork of the Eye of Ra.

Mosaic art found its purpose in almost every part of ancient Egypt. From decorating the simplest objects such as glasses and vases to decorating pharaoh’s thrones and whole villas and palaces, mosaic art had quickly spread to the surrounding territories as well. During that most famous period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1570 — c. 1069 BCE), all of the royals and nobility, as well as other wealthy families used mosaic artwork to embellish their homes and places of worship.

Egyptian Floor Mosaic Artwork and Designs
Egyptian floor mosaic made of a variety of stone cubes in the opus vermiculatum technique.

One of the most well-preserved examples of the versatility and skill of the ancient Egyptian mosaicists is most definitely the Villa of the Birds in Alexandria, Egypt. Thousands of art and history buffs from around the world come to this lovely port city to admire its glorious mosaic images every year. Mosaic decorating the villa depict parrots, peacocks, pigeons, quail and water hens, and a variety of other animals, featuring a wide range of decorative techniques from the imperial era.

Egyptian Mosaic Artwork and Designs - Alexandria, Egypt.
One of the mosaic parrots from the Villa of the Birds in Alexandria, Egypt.

Egyptian Mosaic Artwork and Designs - Alexandria, Egypt
Intricate detail from the floor of the Villa of the Birds in Alexandria, Egypt.

The whole of ancient Egyptian society was based on the unique concept of ma’at, or harmony, which is what sustains the universe itself. All Egyptian art is based on the perfection of balance because it reflects the world of gods. So if you were ever wondering about the beauty and worth of mosaic artwork, just remember that the Egyptian artists created mosaic making while trying to reflect the very world of their gods and goddesses. Beat that oil, canvas, and aquarelle! Hmpf.


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M. Belosh

M. Belosh

Passionate art enthusiast; avid reader (you can find me on Goodreads under the same name); movie connoisseur; intolerable before my morning coffee.

28 Comments

  1. MELANIE EDJOURIAN
    June 24, 2021 at 4:11 pm — Reply

    The Egyptian artist were pretty amazing. I love that they decorated such a large range of items with mosaic.

  2. Heather
    June 24, 2021 at 4:14 pm — Reply

    I love learning about ancient Egyptians! Such a fascinating time!

  3. Jupiter Hadley
    June 25, 2021 at 9:19 am — Reply

    Oh wow, what an interesting and informative article. I always think of hieroglyphics when I think of Egyptian art, but not so much mosaics.

  4. Stephanie
    June 25, 2021 at 2:54 pm — Reply

    I didn’t know mosaics originated in Egypt. A year ago there was a big Egyptian display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and it was so neat to see all the pieces and colors. I didn’t know they imported so much to make those.

  5. Laeh
    June 25, 2021 at 5:04 pm — Reply

    I have always been mystified of ancient Egyptian art and paintings but not really seen any mosaic themed ones. These ones look absolutely stunning

  6. Jasmine Martin
    June 25, 2021 at 9:20 pm — Reply

    The ancient Egyptian mosaic art is absolutely gorgeous. I’d love to see some of the artwork in person.

  7. Rhian westbury
    June 26, 2021 at 5:11 am — Reply

    Some beautiful art, I do love a mosaic. I’ve seen a lot of this style in Greece and on the Greek Islands which may have been influenced by Egyptian art x

  8. Aisam
    June 26, 2021 at 8:05 am — Reply

    Wow, I didn’t know that mosaic existed as far back as Egyptian times. It is amazing to see the art from that time!

  9. MELANIE EDJOURIAN
    June 26, 2021 at 11:39 am — Reply

    It sounds like the Egyptians were very creative when it came to art work. I didn’t know they travelled to find different materials for their artwork.

  10. Ambuj Saxena
    June 26, 2021 at 4:14 pm — Reply

    Thank you for introducing Egyptian culture in such an intimate manner. I must admit you are great at storytelling through written word. Just a request, pls research and present South Asian culture as well, if you have not done in the past. I think this topic might intrigue you.

  11. Catherine
    June 26, 2021 at 10:24 pm — Reply

    Such a unique style of mosaic art..I’ve never seen this before but it’s absolutely stunning!

  12. Knashz
    June 26, 2021 at 11:31 pm — Reply

    Ancient egyptians always have the upperhand on us in terms of art forms haha!

  13. Joyce
    June 27, 2021 at 1:08 am — Reply

    Nice! Thanks for sharing this information about mosaics. I never realized how amazing this artwork is until I read about it today.

  14. Bauhinia
    June 27, 2021 at 2:12 am — Reply

    Wow, thanks for introducing us these beautiful Egyptian art masterpieces! I am amazed by these intricate designs and details.

  15. Garf
    June 27, 2021 at 11:06 am — Reply

    These are beautiful mosaic art. My fave is the dog and the bird arts.

  16. Melissa Cushing
    June 27, 2021 at 11:17 am — Reply

    Thank you for this informative post. I absolutely love history and this is a wonderful history lesson for sure. I honestly love the art of mosaics and you guys make some amazing works of art for sure.

  17. Nina
    June 27, 2021 at 2:07 pm — Reply

    I have always been interested in Egyptian culture and art. Thank you for this interesting presentation of what influence Egyptian art had.
    Nina

  18. Monica Y
    June 27, 2021 at 3:20 pm — Reply

    Wow these are all amazing. I really would love to see them in person

  19. Renata Feyen
    June 27, 2021 at 4:50 pm — Reply

    I love Lapis Lazuli and have made some beadwork with the gems too 🙂

  20. zim
    June 28, 2021 at 5:17 am — Reply

    Wow! This artwork is beyond beautiful. I particularly love the Tutankhamun and Anskhenamun artwork.

  21. Krysten Quiles
    June 28, 2021 at 9:36 am — Reply

    These are so beautiful, I love learning about all these different mosaics.

  22. Lyanna Soria
    June 28, 2021 at 1:36 pm — Reply

    All of those mosaic art looks amazing, definitely love the designs, and what an informative post.

  23. Lyosha
    June 28, 2021 at 1:58 pm — Reply

    very interesting style and choices! It seems very fresh to me

  24. Rosey
    June 28, 2021 at 5:16 pm — Reply

    The art is beautiful. It’s nice to understand the history behind some of it.

  25. Josh McKinley
    June 28, 2021 at 11:46 pm — Reply

    Egyptians has a great history when it comes to arts.

  26. Rach
    June 29, 2021 at 8:07 am — Reply

    Ancient Egyptians has an interesting and beautiful bulture. Those mosaics all look amazing!

  27. Melanie Varey
    July 5, 2021 at 8:03 am — Reply

    What fabulous art work and artefacts. So interesting to read about the origins of mosaic

  28. Talya Stone
    July 7, 2021 at 12:06 pm — Reply

    So interesting! I always thought that mosaics originated from Roman times…I didn’t realise the Egyptian influence was so strong.

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