THE GORGON #MEDUSA MOSAIC
The mosaic covers the living-room cum dining room (triclinium) floor (8,00 x 8,00 m) and represent the shield of the goddess Pallas Athena decorated with the decapitated head of Gorgon Medusa. It was intended to ward the evil away and to petrify ill-wishers with terrifying appearance and freezing gaze (apotropaion).
According to Greek mythology Gorgon-Medusa
(Gr. „the Horrible”) was the most horrible and only mortal of the three daughters of the sea deities Phorcys and Ceto, granddaughters of the earth Gaea and the sea Pontus. Initially she was first among beauties of beautiful hair, which Minerva turned into snakes when Gorgon was raped by Neptune in her temple. Gorgon’s face petrified everyone who looked at her.
According another version of this myth she lived in the endmost West with her sisters Stheno and Euryale. The Gorgons were notorious for their horrible appearance: female creatures of wings covered with steel scales, snakes instead of hair, wolf’s fangs and eyes and touch that turned all living creatures in stone.
The hero Perseus (the shower-of gold born son of Zeus and Danae, daughter of King Acrisius of Argos) decapitated the sleeping Gorgon-Medusa stepping forward with his back to her and looking at her reflection in his copper shield (presented to him by Athena Pallas) and cut her head with his curved sword (a present from Hephestus).
Perseus escaped the Gorgons chasing after him on the winged sandals (presented to him by Hermes or Mercury). Perseus presented the head of Gorgon-Medusa to Athena Pallas who attached it to her shield (or aegis) to scare her enemies.
THE #SATYR AND ANTIOPE MOSAIC
The floor of the building bedroom (cubiculum) (5,60 x 4,40 m) is covered with mosaic, depicting one of the
numerous love affairs of Zeus, the supreme Greek god. It is an extremely rare plot among the preserved mosaics dating back that far. According to Homer, the nymph Antiope was the beautiful daughter of the river-god Asopus, or according to others, daughter of king Nycteus of Thebes. She was seduced by Zeus, who had changed into the looks of a young satyr (mythical creatures followers of Dionysus, the god of wine, personifying the unleashed animal fertility). Fearing her father’s wrath, she fled from Thebes to Epopeus, the King of Sicyon (in Peloponnesus, South Greece) who married her. Nycteus, upon his deathbed, charged his brother Lycus (heir to the throne) with the task to get Antiope back to Thebes. Lycus killed Epopeus. He took Antiope with him to Thebes. On the way back, on Mt. Cithaeron she gave birth to the twins Amphion and Zethus, but she was forced to abandon her infants. For years on end Lycus and his wife Dirce mistreated Antiope severely. When her sons, Amphion and Zethus, grew up (raised by a shepherd), they exacted a terrible vengeance upon Dirce by tying her to the horns of a ferocious bull.
THE PANONIAN VOLUTES MOSAIC
The Panonian Volutes Mosaic was discovered during rescue excavation works in 1949 in the eastern part of Marcianopolis, in a building of unknown use (perhaps an old Christian basilica). The decoration of the mosaic consists of repeated geometric patterns in four clours (probably imitating sarcophagus decorations). The technique applied in the making of the mosaic was the opus tesselatum where larger tesseras of marble and baked clay were used.
The building’s plan follows the traditions of the Greek-Roman atrium-peristil residential place. Twenty one residential-, processing- and storage rooms of total area 1 402 square meters are arranged around a closed yard (atrium) (5,87 x 11,11 m), paved with stone slabs and brickwork water well in its middle, surrounded on three sides by covered colonnade (cryptoporticus) (92,63 m2). The walls of the residential rooms were covered by coloured paint and murals of plaster. Five of the building’s rooms and porticoes are covered with multi-coloured floor mosaics, one of the best examples of the Roman mosaic art of that period found in Bulgaria.
Three of these mosaics are displayed in the rooms where they have been found (in situ) and the rest were transferred to a new carrying base following their conservation and partial restoration. The mosaics were made in the classical techniques opus tesselatum and opus vermiculatum out of small cubeshaped stones (tesseras) of marble, limestone, baked clay and coloured glass (smalta), in 16 colours. The mosaics depict mainly personages and scenes of the Greek and Roman mythology, exotic animals and birds, floral- and geometric shapes.
The museum halls display diverse exhibits related to the architecture of the building and domestic life of its residents.
Author: Anastas Angelov