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Geometric mosaics

Geometric mosaics Geometric patterns in a Roman mosaic may look quite complex at first. When you break them down they are quite simple. There are two parts, the pattern and the geometry. Look at the pattern below. This is called a ‘double strand guilloche’ border pattern and is two strands interwoven, like hair plaits. Now look at the pattern below with circles superimposed in a line, this is the geometry. These plait type border patterns were very common, with two, three, four strands, even up to 20 or more in some rare examples. How do you work out how many strands are in them? With the guilloche/plait type border patterns 13

there is an easy way. You count the number of single white centre tesserae on a diagonal line, add one to this and that is the number of strands in the pattern. See the drawing below for how this is done. Here are some other common patterns; Triple strand guilloche Loop guilloche 14

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