Syria the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Armenians, Kurds, Circassians and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Alawites, Isma'ilis, Shiites, Salafis and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria. Syria is a unitary republic consisting of 14 governorates and is the only country that politically espouses Ba'athism, it is a member of one international organization other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement. In English, the name "Syria" was synonymous with the Levant, while the modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. Aleppo and the capital city Damascus are among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
In the Islamic era, Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt. The modern Syrian state was established in mid-20th century after centuries of Ottoman and a brief period French mandate, represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the Ottoman-ruled Syrian provinces, it gained de-jure independence as a parliamentary republic on 24 October 1945, when Republic of Syria became a founding member of the United Nations, an act which ended the former French Mandate – although French troops did not leave the country until April 1946. The post-independence period was tumultuous, a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–71. In 1958, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt called the United Arab Republic, terminated by the 1961 Syrian coup d'état; the republic was renamed into the Arab Republic of Syria in late 1961 after December 1 constitutional referendum, was unstable until the 1963 Ba'athist coup d'état, since which the Ba'ath Party has maintained its power.
Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011 suspending most constitutional protections for citizens. Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, in office from 1971 to 2000. Since March 2011, Syria has been embroiled in an armed conflict, with a number of countries in the region and beyond involved militarily or otherwise; as a result, a number of self-proclaimed political entities have emerged on Syrian territory, including the Syrian opposition, Tahrir al-Sham and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Syria is ranked last on the Global Peace Index, making it the most violent country in the world due to the war, although life continues for most of its citizens as of December 2017; the war caused more than 470,000 deaths, 7.6 million internally displaced people and over 5 million refugees, making population assessment difficult in recent years. Several sources indicate that the name Syria is derived from the 8th century BC Luwian term "Sura/i", the derivative ancient Greek name: Σύριοι, Sýrioi, or Σύροι, Sýroi, both of which derived from Aššūrāyu in northern Mesopotamia.
However, from the Seleucid Empire, this term was applied to The Levant, from this point the Greeks applied the term without distinction between the Assyrians of Mesopotamia and Arameans of the Levant. Mainstream modern academic opinion favours the argument that the Greek word is related to the cognate Ἀσσυρία, Assyria derived from the Akkadian Aššur; the Greek name appears to correspond to Phoenician ʾšr "Assur", ʾšrym "Assyrians", recorded in the 8th century BC Çineköy inscription. The area designated by the word has changed over time. Classically, Syria lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, between Arabia to the south and Asia Minor to the north, stretching inland to include parts of Iraq, having an uncertain border to the northeast that Pliny the Elder describes as including, from west to east, Commagene and Adiabene. By Pliny's time, this larger Syria had been divided into a number of provinces under the Roman Empire: Judaea renamed Palaestina in AD 135 in the extreme southwest.
Since 10,000 BC, Syria was one of the centers of Neolithic culture where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic period is represented by rectangular houses of Mureybet culture. At the time of the pre-pottery Neolithic, people used vessels made of stone and burnt lime. Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidences of early trade relations. Cities of Hamoukar and Emar played an important role during Bronze Age. Archaeologists have demonstrated that civilization in Syria was one of the most ancient on earth preceded by only those of Mesopotamia; the earliest recorded in
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is identified as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was or desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years, the Messinian salinity crisis, before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago. It covers an approximate area of 2.5 million km2, representing 0.7 % of the global ocean surface, but its connection to the Atlantic via the Strait of Gibraltar-the narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain in Europe from Morocco in Africa- is only 14 km wide. In oceanography, it is sometimes called the Eurafrican Mediterranean Sea or the European Mediterranean Sea to distinguish it from mediterranean seas elsewhere.
The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 1,500 m and the deepest recorded point is 5,267 m in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea. The sea is bordered on the north by Europe, the east by Asia, in the south by Africa, it is located between latitudes 30° and 46° N and longitudes 6° W and 36° E. Its west-east length, from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Gulf of Iskenderun, on the southwestern coast of Turkey, is 4,000 km; the sea's average north-south length, from Croatia's southern shore to Libya, is 800 km. The sea was an important route for merchants and travellers of ancient times that allowed for trade and cultural exchange between emergent peoples of the region; the history of the Mediterranean region is crucial to understanding the origins and development of many modern societies. The countries surrounding the Mediterranean in clockwise order are Spain, Monaco, Slovenia, Croatia and Herzegovina, Albania, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. In addition, the Gaza Strip and the British Overseas Territories of Gibraltar and Akrotiri and Dhekelia have coastlines on the sea.
The Ancient Greeks called the Mediterranean ἡ θάλασσα or sometimes ἡ μεγάλη θάλασσα, ἡ ἡμέτερα θάλασσα, or ἡ θάλασσα ἡ καθ'ἡμᾶς. The Romans called it Mare Mare Internum and, starting with the Roman Empire, Mare Nostrum; the term Mare Mediterrāneum appears later: Solinus used it in the 3rd century, but the earliest extant witness to it is in the 6th century, in Isidore of Seville. It means'in the middle of land, inland' in Latin, a compound of medius, -āneus; the Latin word is a calque of Greek μεσόγειος, from μέσος and γήινος, from γῆ. The original meaning may have been'the sea in the middle of the earth', rather than'the sea enclosed by land'; the Carthaginians called it the "Syrian Sea". In ancient Syrian texts, Phoenician epics and in the Hebrew Bible, it was known as the "Great Sea" or as "The Sea". Another name was the "Sea of the Philistines", from the people inhabiting a large portion of its shores near the Israelites. In Modern Hebrew, it is called HaYam HaTikhon'the Middle Sea'. In Modern Arabic, it is known as al-Baḥr al-Mutawassiṭ'the Middle Sea'.
In Islamic and older Arabic literature, it was Baḥr al-Rūm'the Sea of the Romans' or'the Roman Sea'. At first, that name referred to only the Eastern Mediterranean, but it was extended to the whole Mediterranean. Other Arabic names were Baḥr al-šām'the Sea of Syria' and Baḥr al-Maghrib'the Sea of the West'. In Turkish, it is the Akdeniz'the White Sea'; the origin of the name is not clear, as it is not known in earlier Greek, Byzantine or Islamic sources. It may be to contrast with the Black Sea. In Persian, the name was translated as Baḥr-i Safīd, used in Ottoman Turkish, it is the origin of the colloquial Greek phrase Άσπρη Θάλασσα. Johann Knobloch claims that in Classical Antiquity, cultures in the Levant used colours to refer to the cardinal points: black referred to the north, yellow or blue to east, red to south, white to west; this would explain both the Turkish Akdeniz and the Arab nomenclature described above. Several ancient civilizations were located around the Mediterranean shores and were influenced by their proximity to the sea.
It provided routes for trade and war, as well as food for numerous communities throughout the ages. Due to the shared climate and access to the sea, c
Berenice I of Egypt
Berenice I was Queen of Egypt by marriage to Ptolemy I Soter. She became the second queen, of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt. Berenice was from Eordaea, she was the daughter of princess Antigone of Macedon, an obscure local, a Greek Macedonian nobleman called Magas. Her maternal grandfather was a nobleman called Cassander, the brother of Antipater, the regent for Alexander's empire, through her mother was a relation to his family. In 325 BC, Berenice married military officer called Philip. Philip was married and had other children. Through her first marriage, she became the mother of King Magas of Cyrene, who married King Pyrrhus of Epirus. Magas dedicated an inscription to his father, when he served as a priest of Apollo. Pyrrhus gave her name to a new city called Berenicis. Philip died around 318 BC. After the death of her first husband, Berenice travelled to Egypt with her children as a lady-in-waiting for her mother's first cousin Eurydice, the wife of Ptolemy I. Ptolemy I was one of the generals of King Alexander the Great and founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt.
Berenice became involved in a relationship with Ptolemy I, who married her in 317 BC. Berenice became the mother of Arsinoe II, a son, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. In an unknown Olympiad, she was a victor in the chariot races, her son Ptolemy II was recognized as his father's heir in preference to Eurydice's children to Ptolemy I. During his reign, Ptolemy II named it Berenice after his mother. After she died, Ptolemy II and Ptolemy IV Philopator decreed divine honors to her. With her first spouse Philip, she became the mother of: King Magas of Cyrene Antigone, who married King Pyrrhus of Epirus TheoxenaWith her second spouse Ptolemy I, she became the mother of: Arsinoe II, who married first Lysimachus her half-brother Ptolemy Keraunos and her full brother Ptolemy II. Philotera Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Pharaoh of Egypt; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Berenice". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3. Cambridge University Press. P. 769. Waterfield, Robin.
Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great’s Empire. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 273 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-957392-9
Benghazi is the second-most populous city in Libya and the largest in Cyrenaica. A port on the Mediterranean Sea in the State of Libya, Benghazi had joint-capital status alongside Tripoli because the King and the Senussi royal family were associated with Cyrenaica rather than Tripolitania; the city was provisional capital of the National Transitional Council. Benghazi continues to hold institutions and organizations associated with a national capital city, such as the country's parliament, national library, the headquarters of Libyan Airlines, the national airline, of the National Oil Corporation; this creates a constant atmosphere of rivalry and sensitivities between Benghazi and Tripoli, between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. The population was 670,797 at the 2006 census. On 15 February 2011, an uprising against the government of Muammar Gaddafi occurred in the city; the revolts spread by 17 February to Bayda, Ajdabya, Al Marj in the East and Zintan, Zawiya in the West, calling for the end of the Gaddafi Regime.
Benghazi was taken by Gaddafi opponents on 21 February, who founded the National Transitional Council. On 19 March, the city was the site of the turning point of the Libyan Civil War, when the Libyan Army attempted to score a decisive victory against the NTC by attacking Benghazi, but was forced back by local resistance and intervention from the French Air Force authorized by UNSC Resolution 1973 to protect civilians, allowing the rebellion to continue; the ancient Greek city that existed within the modern day boundaries of Benghazi was founded around 525 BC. Euesperides was most founded by people from Cyrene or Barce, located on the edge of a lagoon which opened from the sea. At the time, this area may have been deep enough to receive small sailing vessels; the name was attributed to the fertility of the neighborhood, which gave rise to the mythological associations of the garden of the Hesperides The ancient city existed on a raised piece of land opposite of what is now the Sidi-Abayd graveyard in the Northern Benghazi suburb of Sbikhat al-Salmani.
The city is first mentioned by ancient sources in Herodotus' account of the revolt of Barca and the Persian expedition to Cyrenaica in c. 515 BC, where it is stated that the punitive force sent by the satrap of Egypt conquered Cyrenaica as far west as Euesperides. The oldest coins minted in the city date back to 480 BC. One side of those coins has an engraving of Delphi; the other side is an engraving of a silphium plant, once the symbol of trade from Cyrenaica because of its use as a rich seasoning and as a medicine. The coinage suggests that the city must have enjoyed some autonomy from Cyrene in the early 5th century BC, when the issues of Euesperides had their own types with the legend EU, distinct from those of Cyrene; the city was surrounded by inhospitable tribes. The Greek historian Thucydides mentions a siege of the city in 414 BC, by Libyans who were the Nasamones: Euesperides was saved by the unexpected arrival of the Spartan general Gylippus and his fleet, who were blown to Libya by contrary winds on their way to Sicily.
One of the Cyrenean kings whose fate is connected with the city is Arcesilaus IV. The king used his chariot victory at the Pythian Games of 462 BC to attract new settlers to Euesperides, where Arcesilaus hoped to create a safe refuge for himself against the resentment of the people of Cyrene; this proved ineffective, since when the king fled to Euesperides during the anticipated revolution, he was assassinated, thus terminating the 200-year rule of the Battiad dynasty. An inscription found there and dated around the middle of the 4th century BC states that the city had a constitution similar to that of Cyrene, with a board of chief magistrates and a council of elders. In the 4th century BC, during the unsettled period which followed Alexander's death, the city backed the losing side in a revolt by the Spartan adventurer Thibron. After the marriage around the middle of the 3rd century BC of Ptolemy III to Berenice, daughter of the Cyrenean Governor Magas, many Cyrenaican cities were renamed to mark the occasion.
Euesperides became Berenice and the change of name involved a relocation. Its desertion was due to the silting up of the lagoons; the Greek colony had lasted from the 6th to the mid-3rd centuries BC. Modern Benghazi, on the Gulf of Sidra, lies a little southwest of the site of the ancient Greek city of Berenice or Berenicis or Bernici; that city was traditionally founded in 446 BC, by a brother of the king of Cyrene, but got the name Berenice only when it was refounded in the 3rd century BC under the patronage of Berenice, the daughter of Magas, king of Cyrene, wife of Ptolemy III Euergetes, the ruler of Egypt. The new city was given the name Hesperides, in reference to the Hesperides, the guardians of the mythic western paradise; the name may have referred to green oases in low-lying areas in the nearby coastal plain. Benghazi became a Roman city and prospered for 600 years; the city superseded Cyrene and Barca as the chief center of Cyrenaica after the 3rd century AD and during the Persian attacks.
In its more prosperous period, Berenice became a Christian bishopric. The first of its bishops whose name is recorded in extant documents is Ammon, to whom Dionysius
Magas of Cyrene
Magas of Cyrene was a Greek Macedonian nobleman and King of Cyrenaica. Through his mother’s second marriage to Ptolemy I he became a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, he managed to wrestle independence for Cyrenaica from the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt, became King of Cyrenaica from 276 BC to 250 BC. Magas was the first-born son of the noblewoman Berenice I and her first husband Philip, who had served as a military officer in the campaigns of Alexander the Great, he had two younger sisters: Antigone of Theoxena of Syracuse. His father, Philip was the son of Amyntas by an unnamed mother. Plutarch implies that his father was married and had children, including daughters born to him. Phillip served as a military officer in the service of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great and was known for commanding one division of the phalanx in Alexander’s wars, his mother Berenice was a noblewoman from Eordeaea. She was the daughter of noblewoman Antigone. Berenice’s mother was the niece of the powerful regent Antipater and was a distant collateral relative to the Argead dynasty.
He was the namesake of his maternal grandfather. About 318 BCE, his father died of natural causes. After the death of Magas’ father, Magas’ mother took him and his siblings to the Ptolemaic Kingdom, where they were a part of the entourage of his mother’s second maternal cousin Eurydice. Eurydice was the wife of Ptolemy I Soter, the first Greek pharaoh and founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty. By 317 BCE, Ptolemy I repudiated Eurydice to marry her, his mother, through her marriage to Ptolemy, thus became an Egyptian Queen and the Queen mother of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Through his mother's marriage to Ptolemy, Magas was a stepson to Ptolemy, his mother bore Ptolemy three children: two daughters, Arsinoe II, Philotera and the future Pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus. Around five years after the death of the Cyrenese ruler Ophellas, Magas about 20 years old, received the governorship of Cyrenaica from the ruling Ptolemies in Egypt: his mother Queen Berenice I and his stepfather Ptolemy I; as a posthumous honor to his biological father, when he served as a priest of the Greek God Apollo, had dedicated an honorific inscription proudly naming him as ‘the eponymous priest’ and ‘Magas son of Philip’.
Following the death of his stepfather Ptolemy I in 283 BC, Magas tried on several occasions to wrest independence for Cyrenaica from his stepfather's successor, his maternal half-brother Ptolemy Philadelphus, until he crowned himself King around 276 BC. It was the first time Cyrene had a king since Arcesilaus IV around 440 BC. Magas married Apama II, his third maternal cousin and one of the daughters of Seleucid King Antiochus I Soter and Stratonice of Syria. Antiochus I used his marital alliance to foment a pact to invade Egypt. Apama II and Magas had a daughter called Berenice II, their only child. Magas opened hostilities against Ptolemy II in 274 BC, attacking Egypt from the west, as Antiochus I was attacking Palestine. However, Magas had to cancel his operations due to an internal revolt of the Libyan nomad Marmaridae. In the east, Antiochus I suffered defeat against the armies of Ptolemy II. Magas at least managed to maintain the independence of Cyrenaica until his death in 250 BC. Magas betrothed his daughter Berenice II to Ptolemy III, the son of Ptolemy II, as a way to seal an alliance between the two realms and secure the independence of Cyrene.
After the death of Magas, Apama II broke the marital alliance between her daughter Berenice II and Ptolemy III Euergetes, the son of Ptolemy Philadelphus, proposed her daughter and the throne to Demetrius the Fair, son of the Antigonid king Demetrius I Poliorcetes, who became the new king of Cyrene. This gave the Antigonids strategic control of the western side of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. After Demetrius was assassinated by Berenice for cheating with her mother Apama, Berenice returned to Egypt to marry her original fiancé, Ptolemy III Euergetes. Magas is known to have favored the arts and sciences in Cyrene, was close to the philosophical school of the Cyrenaics; the philosophy of the Cyrenaics under Magas evolved in a way that has similarities with Skepticism and Buddhism. Magas was known in name by the contemporary Indian Emperor Ashoka, he may have received Buddhist emissaries from India: indeed Magas is mentioned in the Edicts of Ashoka, as one of the recipients of Ashoka's Buddhist proselytism.
Ashoka claims that he encouraged the development of herbalism, for men and animals, in the territories of the Hellenistic Kings. Now it is conquest by Dhamma, and it has been won here, on the borders six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos and Alexander rule in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, as far as Tamraparni. Here in the king's domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamktis, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods' instructions in Dhamma. Where Beloved-of-the-Gods' envoys have not been, these people too, having heard of the practice of Dhamma and the ordinances and instructions in Dhamma given by Beloved-of-the-Gods, are following it and will continue to do so. There are no records of such emissaries in Western sources. However, the philosopher Hegesias of Cyrene, from the city of Cyrene where Magas ruled in Cyrenai
Ptolemy IV Philopator
Ptolemy IV Philopator, son of Ptolemy III and Berenice II, was the fourth Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt from 221 to 204 BC. The decline of the Ptolemaic dynasty began under the reign of Ptolemy IV. Among the children of Ptolemy IV Philopator and his sister-wife Arsinoe III of Egypt was Ptolemy V Epiphanes, who married Cleopatra I Syra, daughter of Antiochus III the Great and Laodice III. Ptolemy IV's reign was inaugurated by the murder of his mother, he was always under the dominion of favourites and female, who indulged his vices and conducted the government as they pleased. Self-interest led his ministers to make serious preparations to meet the attacks of Antiochus III the Great on Coele-Syria including Judea, Ptolemy himself was present at the great Egyptian victory of Raphia which secured the northern borders of the kingdom for the remainder of his reign; the arming of Egyptians in this campaign had a disturbing effect upon the native population of Egypt, leading to the secession of Upper Egypt under pharaohs Harmachis and Ankmachis, thus creating a kingdom that occupied much of the country and lasted nearly twenty years.
Philopator was devoted to orgiastic forms of religion and literary dilettantism. He built a temple to Homer and composed a tragedy, to which his favourite Agathocles added a commentary, he married his sister Arsinoë III, but continued to be ruled by his mistress Agathoclea, sister of Agathocles. In late c. 210 BC, Agathoclea may have given birth to a son from her affair with Ptolemy IV, who may have died shortly after his birth. Strabo, mentions that Ptolemy V was the son of Agathoclea but he may have been confused considering that she was his mistress. Ptolemy is said to have built a giant ship known as the tessarakonteres, a huge galley and the largest human-powered vessel built; this showpiece galley was described by Callixenus of Rhodes, writing in the 3rd century BC, quoted by Athenaeus in the 2nd century AD. Plutarch mentions that Ptolemy Philopator owned this immense vessel in his Life of Demetrios; the current theory is that Ptolemy's ship was an oversized catamaran galley, measuring 128 m.
Ptolemy IV is a major antagonist of the deuterocanonical 3 Maccabees, which describes events following the Battle of Raphia, in both Jerusalem and Alexandria. Ptolemy IV's reign was marked by trade with other contemporaneous polities. In the 1930s, excavations by Mattingly at a fortress close to Port Dunford in present-day southern Somalia yielded a number of Ptolemaic coins. Among these pieces were 17 copper mints from the reigns of Ptolemy III, Ptolemy IV and Ptolemy V, as well as late Imperial Rome and Mamluk Sultanate coins. Clayton, Peter A.. Chronicles of the Pharaohs: the reign-by-reign record of the rulers and dynasties of ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-28628-0; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Ptolemies". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22. Cambridge University Press. P. 617. Ptolemy Philopator I at LacusCurtius — Ptolemy IV — Ptolemaic Genealogy: Possible child of Ptolemy IV The great revolt of the Egyptians:205–186 BC Ptolemy IV Philopator entry in historical sourcebook by Mahlon H. Smith
A mosaic is a piece of art or image made from the assembling of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It is used in decorative art or as interior decoration. Most mosaics are made of small, flat square, pieces of stone or glass of different colors, known as tesserae; some floor mosaics, are made of small rounded pieces of stone, called "pebble mosaics". Mosaics have a long history, starting in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC. Pebble mosaics were made in Tiryns in Mycenean Greece. Early Christian basilicas from the 4th century onwards were decorated with ceiling mosaics. Mosaic art flourished in the Byzantine Empire from the 6th to the 15th centuries. Mosaic fell out of fashion in the Renaissance, though artists like Raphael continued to practise the old technique. Roman and Byzantine influence led Jewish artists to decorate 5th and 6th century synagogues in the Middle East with floor mosaics. Mosaic was used on religious buildings and palaces in early Islamic art, including Islam's first great religious building, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.
Mosaic went out of fashion in the Islamic world after the 8th century. Modern mosaics are made by professional artists, street artists, as a popular craft. Many materials other than traditional stone and ceramic tesserae may be employed, including shells and beads; the earliest known examples of mosaics made of different materials were found at a temple building in Abra and are dated to the second half of 3rd millennium BC. They consist of pieces of colored stones and ivory. Excavations at Susa and Chogha Zanbil show evidence of the first glazed tiles, dating from around 1500 BC. However, mosaic patterns were not used until the times of Roman influence. Bronze age pebble mosaics have been found at Tiryns. Mythological subjects, or scenes of hunting or other pursuits of the wealthy, were popular as the centrepieces of a larger geometric design, with emphasized borders. Pliny the Elder mentions the artist Sosus of Pergamon by name, describing his mosaics of the food left on a floor after a feast and of a group of doves drinking from a bowl.
Both of these themes were copied. Greek figural mosaics could have been copied or adapted paintings, a far more prestigious artform, the style was enthusiastically adopted by the Romans so that large floor mosaics enriched the floors of Hellenistic villas and Roman dwellings from Britain to Dura-Europos. Most recorded names of Roman mosaic workers are Greek, suggesting they dominated high quality work across the empire. Splendid mosaic floors are found in Roman villas across North Africa, in places such as Carthage, can still be seen in the extensive collection in Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia. There were two main techniques in Greco-Roman mosaic: opus vermiculatum used tiny tesserae cubes of 4 millimeters or less, was produced in workshops in small panels which were transported to the site glued to some temporary support; the tiny tesserae allowed fine detail, an approach to the illusionism of painting. Small panels called emblemata were inserted into walls or as the highlights of larger floor-mosaics in coarser work.
The normal technique was opus tessellatum, using larger tesserae, laid on site. There was a distinct native Italian style using black on a white background, no doubt cheaper than coloured work. In Rome and his architects used mosaics to cover some surfaces of walls and ceilings in the Domus Aurea, built 64 AD, wall mosaics are found at Pompeii and neighbouring sites; however it seems that it was not until the Christian era that figural wall mosaics became a major form of artistic expression. The Roman church of Santa Costanza, which served as a mausoleum for one or more of the Imperial family, has both religious mosaic and decorative secular ceiling mosaics on a round vault, which represent the style of contemporary palace decoration; the mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale near Piazza Armerina in Sicily are the largest collection of late Roman mosaics in situ in the world, are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The large villa rustica, owned by Emperor Maximian, was built in the early 4th century.
The mosaics were covered and protected for 700 years by a landslide that occurred in the 12th Century. The most important pieces are the Circus Scene, the 64m long Great Hunting Scene, the Little Hunt, the Labours of Hercules and the famous Bikini Girls, showing women undertaking a range of sporting activities in garments that resemble 20th Century bikinis; the peristyle, the imperial apartments and the thermae were decorated with ornamental and mythological mosaics. Other important examples of Roman mosaic art in Sicily were unearthed on the Piazza Vittoria in Palermo where two houses were discovered; the most important scenes there depicted are an Orpheus mosaic, Alexander the Great's Hunt and the Four Seasons. In 1913 the Zliten mosaic, a Roman mosaic famous for its many scenes from gladiatorial contests and everyday life, was discovered in the Libyan town of Zliten. In 2000 archaeologists working