From earthly to divine: The transition of the asÇrotos Ñikos motif into late antiquity and early christian art

Ehud Fathy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The asàrotos òikos or “unswept floor” is a decorative theme found in Roman mosaics. The theme depicts scraps of food along other items, as if scattered across the room's floor. According to Pliny the theme was first created by Sosus in Pergamon. The mosaic Pliny is referring to was never discovered; however, later Roman variations on this theme were discovered in both Italy and Tunisia. This article seeks to examine the changes made to the asàrotos òikos motif when it transitions from centre to periphery and from the first to the sixth century CE. This article explores the functions and meanings the theme has held in Roman thought during the first and second century CE, the change in perception and use of the theme during the third century in the provincial Roman towns of North Africa, the influence of the theme on Early Christian art - both in style and iconography, and the new meanings possibly assigned to the theme upon its later use in a Byzantine basilica.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-120
Number of pages28
JournalHumanitas
Volume75
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Keywords

  • Aquileia
  • Asàrotos òikos
  • Heraclitus
  • Mosaic
  • Roman art
  • Santa Costanza
  • Sidi-Abiche
  • Sosus
  • Unswept floor

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