Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st-century Judea, most between AD 30 and 33. Jesus' crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in the New Testament epistles, attested to by other ancient sources, is established as a historical event confirmed by non-Christian sources, although there is no consensus among historians on the exact details. According to the canonical gospels, Jesus was arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin, sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, crucified by the Romans. Jesus was stripped of his clothing and offered wine mixed with myrrh or gall to drink after saying I am thirsty, he was hung between two convicted thieves and, according to the Gospel of Mark, died some six hours later. During this time, the soldiers affixed a sign to the top of the cross stating "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" which, according to the Gospel of John, was written in three languages, they divided his garments among themselves and cast lots for his seamless robe, according to the Gospel of John.
According to the Gospel of John after Jesus' death, one soldier pierced his side with a spear to be certain that he had died blood and water gushed from the wound. The Bible describes seven statements that Jesus made while he was on the cross, as well as several supernatural events that occurred. Collectively referred to as the Passion, Jesus' suffering and redemptive death by crucifixion are the central aspects of Christian theology concerning the doctrines of salvation and atonement; the baptism of Jesus and his crucifixion are considered to be two certain facts about Jesus. James Dunn states that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command universal assent" and "rank so high on the'almost impossible to doubt or deny' scale of historical facts" that they are the starting points for the study of the historical Jesus. Bart Ehrman states that the crucifixion of Jesus on the orders of Pontius Pilate is the most certain element about him. John Dominic Crossan states that the crucifixion of Jesus is as certain as any historical fact can be.
Eddy and Boyd state that it is now "firmly established" that there is non-Christian confirmation of the crucifixion of Jesus. Craig Blomberg states that most scholars in the third quest for the historical Jesus consider the crucifixion indisputable. Christopher M. Tuckett states that, although the exact reasons for the death of Jesus are hard to determine, one of the indisputable facts about him is that he was crucified. While scholars agree on the historicity of the crucifixion, they differ on the reason and context for it. For example, both E. P. Sanders and Paula Fredriksen support the historicity of the crucifixion but contend that Jesus did not foretell his own crucifixion and that his prediction of the crucifixion is a "church creation". Geza Vermes views the crucifixion as a historical event but provides his own explanation and background for it. John P. Meier views the crucifixion of Jesus as historical fact and states that, based on the criterion of embarrassment, Christians would not have invented the painful death of their leader.
Meier states that a number of other criteria, e.g. the criterion of multiple attestation and the criterion of coherence help establish the crucifixion of Jesus as a historical event. Although all ancient sources relating to crucifixion are literary, the 1968 archeological discovery just northeast of Jerusalem of the body of a crucified man dated to the 1st century provided good confirmatory evidence that crucifixions occurred during the Roman period according to the manner in which the crucifixion of Jesus is described in the gospels; the crucified man was identified as Yehohanan ben Hagkol and died about 70 AD, around the time of the Jewish revolt against Rome. The analyses at the Hadassah Medical School estimated. Another relevant archaeological find, which dates to the 1st century AD, is an unidentified heel bone with a spike discovered in a Jerusalem gravesite, now held by the Israel Antiquities Authority and displayed in the Israel Museum; the earliest detailed accounts of the death of Jesus are contained in the four canonical gospels.
There are other, more implicit references in the New Testament epistles. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus predicts his death in three separate places. All four Gospels conclude with an extended narrative of Jesus' arrest, initial trial at the Sanhedrin and final trial at Pilate's court, where Jesus is flogged, condemned to death, is led to the place of crucifixion carrying his cross before Roman soldiers induce Simon of Cyrene to carry it, Jesus is crucified and resurrected from the dead, his death is described as other books of the New Testament. In each Gospel these five events in the life of Jesus are treated with more intense detail than any other portion of that Gospel's narrative. Scholars note that the reader receives an hour-by-hour account of what is happening. After arriving at Golgotha, Jesus was offered wine mixed with gall to drink. Matthew's and Mark's Gospels record, he was crucified and hung between two convicted thieves. According to some translations of the original Greek, the thieves may have been bandits or Jewish rebels.
According to Mark's Gospel, he endured the torment of crucifixion for some six hours from the third hour, at 9 am, until his death at the ninth hour, corresponding to about 3 pm. The soldiers affixed a sign above his head stating "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" which, according to the Gospel of John, was in three languages, divided his garments and cast l
Roman Britain was the area of the island of Great Britain, governed by the Roman Empire, from 43 to 410 AD. It comprised the whole of England and Wales and, for a short period, southern Scotland. Julius Caesar invaded Britain in 54 BC as part of his Gallic Wars. According to Caesar, the Britons had been overrun or culturally assimilated by other Celtic tribes during the British Iron Age and had been aiding Caesar's enemies, he received tribute, installed a friendly king over the Trinovantes, returned to Gaul. Planned invasions under Augustus were called off in 34, 27, 25 BC. In 40 AD, Caligula assembled 200,000 men at the Channel on the continent, only to have them gather seashells according to Suetonius as a symbolic gesture to proclaim Caligula's victory over the sea. Three years Claudius directed four legions to invade Britain and restore an exiled king over the Atrebates; the Romans defeated the Catuvellauni, organized their conquests as the Province of Britain. By the year 47, the Romans held the lands southeast of the Fosse Way.
Control over Wales was delayed by reverses and the effects of Boudica's uprising, but the Romans expanded northward. The conquest of Britain continued under command of Gnaeus Julius Agricola, who expanded the Roman Empire as far as Caledonia. In the summer of 84, Agricola faced the armies of the Caledonians, led by Calgacus, at the Battle of Mons Graupius. Battle casualties were estimated by Tacitus to be around the 10,000's on the Caledonian side and about 360 on the Roman side; the bloodbath at Mons Graupius concluded the forty-year conquest of Britain, a period that saw between 100,000 and 250,000 Britons killed. In the context of pre-industrial warfare and of a total population of Britain of c.2 million, these are high figures. Under the 2nd-century emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, two walls were built to defend the Roman province from the Caledonians, whose realms in the Scottish Highlands were never controlled. Around 197, the Severan Reforms divided Britain into two provinces: Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior.
During the Diocletian Reforms, at the end of the 3rd century, Britannia was divided into four provinces under the direction of a vicarius, who administered the Diocese of the Britains. A fifth province, Valentia, is attested in the 4th century. For much of the period of the Roman occupation, Britannia was subject to barbarian invasions and came under the control of imperial usurpers and imperial pretenders; the final Roman withdrawal from Britain occurred around 410. Following the conquest of the Britons, a distinctive Romano-British culture emerged as the Romans introduced improved agriculture, urban planning, industrial production, architecture; the Roman goddess Britannia became the female personification of Britain. After the initial invasions, Roman historians only mention Britain in passing. Thus, most present knowledge derives from archaeological investigations and occasional epigraphic evidence lauding the Britannic achievements of an emperor. Roman citizens settled in Britain from many parts of the Empire.
Britain was known to the Classical world. The Greeks referred to the Cassiterides, or "tin islands", placed them near the west coast of Europe; the Carthaginian sailor Himilco is said to have visited the island in the 5th century BC and the Greek explorer Pytheas in the 4th. It was regarded with some writers refusing to believe it existed at all; the first direct Roman contact was when Julius Caesar undertook two expeditions in 55 and 54 BC, as part of his conquest of Gaul, believing the Britons were helping the Gallic resistance. The first expedition was more a reconnaissance than a full invasion and gained a foothold on the coast of Kent but was unable to advance further because of storm damage to the ships and a lack of cavalry. Despite the military failure it was a political success, with the Roman Senate declaring a 20-day public holiday in Rome to honour the unprecedented achievement of obtaining hostages from Britain and defeating Belgian tribes on returning to the continent; the second invasion involved a larger force and Caesar coerced or invited many of the native Celtic tribes to pay tribute and give hostages in return for peace.
A friendly local king, was installed, his rival, was brought to terms. Hostages were taken, but historians disagree over whether any tribute was paid after Caesar returned to Gaul. Caesar conquered no territory and left no troops behind but he established clients and brought Britain into Rome's sphere of influence. Augustus planned invasions in 34, 27 and 25 BC, but circumstances were never favourable, the relationship between Britain and Rome settled into one of diplomacy and trade. Strabo, writing late in Augustus's reign, claimed that taxes on trade brought in more annual revenue than any conquest could. Archaeology shows. Strabo mentions British kings who sent embassies to Augustus and Augustus's own Res Gestae refers to two British kings he received as refugees; when some of Tiberius's ships were carried to Britain in a storm during his campaigns in Germany in 16 AD, they came back with tales of monsters. Rome appears to have encouraged a balance of power in southern Britain, supporting two powerful kingdoms: the Catuvellauni, ruled by the descendants of Tasciovanus, the Atrebates, ruled by the descendants of Commius.
This policy was followed until 39 or 40
Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age, inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Belgium, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2. According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC. Roman control of Gaul lasted for five centuries, until the last Roman rump state, the Domain of Soissons, fell to the Franks in AD 486.
While the Celtic Gauls had lost their original identities and language during Late Antiquity, becoming amalgamated into a Gallo-Roman culture, Gallia remained the conventional name of the territory throughout the Early Middle Ages, until it acquired a new identity as the Capetian Kingdom of France in the high medieval period. Gallia remains a name of France in modern modern Latin; the Greek and Latin names Galatia and Gallia are derived from a Celtic ethnic term or clan Gal-to-. The Galli of Gallia Celtica were reported to refer to themselves as Celtae by Caesar. Hellenistic folk etymology connected the name of the Galatians to the "milk-white" skin of the Gauls. Modern researchers say it is related to Welsh gallu, Cornish galloes, "capacity, power", thus meaning "powerful people"; the English Gaul is from French Gaule and is unrelated to Latin Gallia, despite superficial similarity. The name Gaul is derived from the Old Frankish *Walholant "Land of the Foreigners/Romans", in which *Walho- is reflex of Proto-Germanic *walhaz, "foreigner, Romanized person", an exonym applied by Germanic speakers to Celts and Latin-speaking people indiscriminately, making it cognate with the names Wales and Wallachia.
The Germanic w- is rendered as gu- / g- in French, the historic diphthong au is the regular outcome of al before a following consonant. French Gaule or Gaulle cannot be derived from Latin Gallia, since g would become j before a, the diphthong au would be unexplained. Proto-Germanic *walha is derived from the name of the Volcae. Unrelated, in spite of superficial similarity, is the name Gael; the Irish word gall did mean "a Gaul", i.e. an inhabitant of Gaul, but its meaning was widened to "foreigner", to describe the Vikings, still the Normans. The dichotomic words gael and gall are sometimes used together for contrast, for instance in the 12th-century book Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib; as adjectives, English has the two variants: Gallic. The two adjectives are used synonymously, as "pertaining to Gaul or the Gauls", although the Celtic language or languages spoken in Gaul is predominantly known as Gaulish. There is little written information concerning the peoples that inhabited the regions of Gaul, save what can be gleaned from coins.
Therefore, the early history of the Gauls is predominantly a work in archaeology and the relationships between their material culture, genetic relationships and linguistic divisions coincide. Before the rapid spread of the La Tène culture in the 5th to 4th centuries BC, the territory of eastern and southern France participated in the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture out of which the early iron-working Hallstatt culture would develop. By 500 BC, there is strong Hallstatt influence throughout most of France. Out of this Hallstatt background, during the 7th and 6th century representing an early form of Continental Celtic culture, the La Tène culture arises under Mediterranean influence from the Greek and Etruscan civilizations, spread out in a number of early centers along the Seine, the Middle Rhine and the upper Elbe. By the late 5th century BC, La Tène influence spreads across the entire territory of Gaul; the La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age in France, Italy, southwest Germany, Moravia and Hungary.
Farther north extended the contemporary pre-Roman Iron Age culture of northern Germany and Scandinavia. The major source of materials on the Celts of Gaul was Poseidonios of Apamea, whose writings were quoted by Timagenes, Julius Caesar, the Sicilian Greek Diodorus Siculus, the Greek geographer Strabo. In the 4th and early 3rd century BC, Gallic clan confederations expanded far beyond the territory of what would become Roman Gaul, into Pannonia, northern Italy and Asia Minor. By the 2nd century BC, the Romans descr
Alpha and Omega
Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, a title of Christ and God in the Book of Revelation. This pair of letters are used as Christian symbols, are combined with the Cross, Chi-rho, or other Christian symbols; the term Alpha and Omega comes from the phrase "I am Alpha and Omega", an appellation of Jesus in the Book of Revelation. The first part of this phrase is first found in Chapter 1 verse 8, is found in every manuscript of Revelation that has 1v8. Several manuscripts repeat "I am the Alpha and Omega" in 1v11 too, but do not receive support here from most of the oldest manuscripts, including the Alexandrine and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, it is, omitted in some modern translations. Scholar Robert Young stated, with regard to "I am the Alpha and Omega" in 1v11, the "oldest omit" it. A similar reference is in Isaiah 44, where the Lord says to be the first and the one, after all. Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the classical Greek alphabet. Thus, twice when the phrase "I am the alpha and the omega" appears it is further clarified with the additional phrase, "the beginning and the end".
The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet were used because the book of Revelation is in the New Testament, written in Greek. This phrase is interpreted by many Christians to mean that Jesus has existed for all eternity or that God is eternal. Though many commentators and dictionaries ascribe the title "the alpha and the omega" to both God and to Christ, some secular sources argue otherwise. Barnes' Notes on the New Testament claims: "It cannot be certain that the writer meant to refer to the Lord Jesus here... There is no real incongruity in supposing that the writer here meant to refer to God as such." Most Christian denominations teach that the title applies to both Jesus and his Father. The letters Alpha and Omega in juxtaposition are used as a Christian visual symbol; the symbols appear in the Roman catacombs. The letters were shown hanging from the arms of the cross in Early Christian art, some crux gemmata, jeweled crosses in precious metal, have formed letters hanging in this way, called pendilia.
In fact, despite always being in Greek, the letters became more common in Western than Eastern Orthodox Christian art. They are shown to the left and right of Christ's head, sometimes within his halo, where they take the place of the Christogram used in Orthodox art. In Rabbinic literature, the word emet, one of the names of God in Judaism, has been interpreted as consisting of the first and final letters of the Hebrew alphabet; the Qur'an gives al'Awwal, meaning "The First" and al'Akhir, meaning "The Last" as two of the names of God: 57:3. Alpha and Omega Attributes of God in Christianity Chi Rho Christian symbolism Everything Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament Names of God in Islam Names of God in Judaism Hassett, Maurice M.. "A and Ω". In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company. "Alpha and Omega" in the Catholic Encyclopedia at newadvent.org "Alpha and Omega" at the Jewish Encyclopedia
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, a tutor to his son Crispus. His most important work is the Institutiones Divinae, an apologetic treatise intended to establish the reasonableness and truth of Christianity to pagan critics. Lactantius, a Latin-speaking North African of Berber origin, was not born into a Christian family, he was a pupil of Arnobius who taught at an important city in Numidia. In his early life, he taught rhetoric in his native town, which may have been Cirta in Numidia, where an inscription mentions a certain "L. Caecilius Firmianus". Lactantius had a successful public career at first. At the request of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, he became an official professor of rhetoric in Nicomedia. There, he associated in the imperial circle with the administrator and polemicist Sossianus Hierocles and the pagan philosopher Porphyry. Having converted to Christianity, he resigned his post before Diocletian's purging of Christians from his immediate staff and before the publication of Diocletian's first "Edict against the Christians".
As a Latin rhetor in a Greek city, he subsequently lived in poverty according to Saint Jerome and eked out a living by writing until Constantine I became his patron. The persecution forced him to leave Nicomedia re-locating to North Africa; the Emperor Constantine appointed the elderly Lactantius Latin tutor to his son Crispus in 309-310, 10-15 years old at the time. Lactantius followed Crispus to Trier in 317, when Crispus was sent to the city. Crispus was put to death by order of his father Constantine I in 326, but when Lactantius died and under what circumstances are unknown. Like so many of the early Christian authors, Lactantius depended on classical models; the early humanists called him the "Christian Cicero". A translator of the Divine Institutes wrote: "Lactantius has always held a high place among the Christian Fathers, not only on account of the subject-matter of his writings, but on account of the varied erudition, the sweetness of expression, the grace and elegance of style, by which they are characterized."He wrote apologetic works explaining Christianity in terms that would be palatable to educated people who still practiced the traditional religions of the Empire.
He defended Christian beliefs against the criticisms of Hellenistic philosophers. His Divinae Institutiones were an early example of a systematic presentation of Christian thought, he was considered somewhat heretical after his death, but Renaissance humanists took a renewed interest in him, more for his elaborately rhetorical Latin style than for his theology. His works were copied in manuscript several times in the 15th century and were first printed in 1465 by the Germans Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Sweynheim at the Abbey of Subiaco; this edition was the first book printed in Italy to have a date of printing, as well as the first use of a Greek alphabet font anywhere, produced in the course of printing, as the early pages leave Greek text blank. It was the fourth book printed in Italy. A copy of this edition was sold at auction in 2000 for more than $1 million. Like many writers in the first few centuries of the early church, Lactantius took a premillennialist view, holding that the second coming of Christ will precede a millennium or a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth.
According to Charles E. Hill, "With Lactantius in the early fourth century we see a determined attempt to revive a more “genuine” form of chiliasm." Lactantius quoted the Sibyls extensively. Book VII of The Divine Institutes indicates a familiarity with Jewish, Christian and Iranian apocalyptic material. None of the fathers thus far had been more verbose on the subject of the millennial kingdom than Lactantius or more particular in describing the times and events preceding and following, he held to the literalist interpretation of the millennium, that the millennium originates with the second advent of Christ and marks the destruction of the wicked, the binding of the devil and the raising of the righteous dead. He depicted Jesus reigning with the resurrected righteous on this earth during the seventh thousand years prior to the general judgment. In the end, the devil, having been bound during the thousand years, is loosed. Next, God renews the earth, after the punishment of the wicked, the Lord alone is thenceforth worshiped in the renovated earth.
Lactantius confidently stated that the beginning of the end would be the fall, or breakup, of the Roman Empire. However, this view fell out of favor with the conversion of Constantine and the improved lot of Christians: "Many Christians felt that any expectation of the downfall of the empire was as disloyal to God as it was to Rome."Attempts to determine the time of the End were viewed as in contradiction to Acts 1:7: "It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority," and Mark 13:32: "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but
Eusebius of Caesarea known as Eusebius Pamphili, was a historian of Christianity and Christian polemicist. He became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon and is regarded as an learned Christian of his time, he wrote Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, On Discrepancies between the Gospels, studies of the Biblical text. As "Father of Church History", he produced the Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, the Chronicle and On the Martyrs. During the Council of Antiochia he was excommunicated for subscribing to the heresy of Arius, thus withdrawn during the First Council of Nicaea where he accepted that the Homoousion referred to the Logos. Never recognized as a saint, he became counselor of Constantine the Great, with the bishop of Nicomedia he continued to polemicize against Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, Church Fathers, since he was condemned in the First Council of Tyre in 335. Little is known about the life of Eusebius.
His successor at the See of Caesarea, wrote a Life of Eusebius, a work that has since been lost. Eusebius' own surviving works only represent a small portion of his total output. Beyond notices in his extant writings, the major sources are the 5th-century ecclesiastical historians Socrates and Theodoret, the 4th-century Christian author Jerome. There are assorted notices of his activities in the writings of his contemporaries Athanasius, Eusebius of Nicomedia, Alexander of Alexandria. Eusebius' pupil, Eusebius of Emesa, provides some incidental information. In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius writes of Dionysius of Alexandria as his contemporary. If this is true, Eusebius' birth must have been before Dionysius' death in autumn 264, he was born in the town in which he lived for most of his adult life, Caesarea Maritima. He was baptized and instructed in the city, lived in Syria Palaestina in 296, when Diocletian's army passed through the region. Eusebius was made presbyter by Agapius of Caesarea.
Some, like theologian and ecclesiastical historian John Henry Newman, understand Eusebius' statement that he had heard Dorotheus of Tyre "expound the Scriptures wisely in the Church" to indicate that Eusebius was Dorotheus' pupil while the priest was resident in Antioch. By the 3rd century, Caesarea had a population of about 100,000, it had been a pagan city since Pompey had given control of the city to the gentiles during his command of the eastern provinces in the 60s BC. The gentiles retained control of the city for the three centuries to follow, despite Jewish petitions for joint governorship. Gentile government was strengthened by the city's refoundation under Herod the Great, when it had taken on the name of Augustus Caesar. In addition to the gentile settlers, Caesarea had large Samaritan minorities. Eusebius was born into the Christian contingent of the city. Caesarea's Christian community had a history reaching back to apostolic times, but it is a common claim that no bishops are attested for the town before about 190 though the Apostolic Constitutions 7.46 states that Zacchaeus was the first bishop.
Through the activities of the theologian Origen and the school of his follower Pamphilus, Caesarea became a center of Christian learning. Origen was responsible for the collection of usage information, or which churches were using which gospels, regarding the texts which became the New Testament; the information used to create the late-fourth-century Easter Letter, which declared accepted Christian writings, was based on the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius of Caesarea, wherein he uses the information passed on to him by Origen to create both his list at HE 3:25 and Origen's list at HE 6:25. Eusebius got his information about what texts were accepted by the third-century churches throughout the known world, a great deal of which Origen knew of firsthand from his extensive travels, from the library and writings of Origen. On his deathbed, Origen had made a bequest of his private library to the Christian community in the city. Together with the books of his patron Ambrosius, Origen's library formed the core of the collection that Pamphilus established.
Pamphilus managed a school, similar to that of Origen. Pamphilus was compared to Demetrius of Phalerum and Pisistratus, for he had gathered Bibles "from all parts of the world". Like his model Origen, Pamphilus maintained close contact with his students. Eusebius, in his history of the persecutions, alludes to the fact that many of the Caesarean martyrs lived together under Pamphilus. Soon after Pamphilus settled in Caesarea, he began teaching Eusebius, somewhere between twenty and twenty-five; because of his close relationship with his schoolmaster, Eusebius was sometimes called Eusebius Pamphili: "Eusebius, son of Pamphilus". The name may indicate that Eusebius was made Pamphilus' heir. Pamphilus gave Eusebius a strong admiration for the thought of Origen. Neither Pamphilus nor Eusebius knew Origen personally.
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