Ancient Roman Fish Mosaics

March 23 2009, 1:47pm

Tabletop constructed from an ancient Roman floor mosaic. We have made another exciting discovery while doing research for our upcoming exhibition on tabletops. We will be presenting an early 19th century table whose top has actually been made from a second century AD Roman floor mosaic. It depicts a fish and a variety of abstract geometric shapes. In searching for comparable examples, we have recently discovered the Casa Rural das Ruínas (the Country House of the Ruins) an ancient Roman farm and villa at Milreu, Portugal (ancient Lusitania), built and expanded between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. The fish mosaics in the Milreu frigidarium and nymphaeum (water sanctuary) are remarkably similar in design to our tabletop. The particular species of fish represented in the present top is likewise depicted in the Milreu mosaics, sharing analagous attributes. Furthermore both present top and the Milreu ruins depict identical geometric shapes and patterns, which include depictions of mollusk-like creatures and one particular shape, yet to be identified, which is comprised of a series of stacked lines terminating in a forked tail. We would be most grateful for any help in identifying the name and meaning of these strange “creatures.” With such closely comparable imagery, there’s no doubt that our tabletop is a true ancient Roman treasure! Floor mosaics in the Milreu Roman ruins. Fish Mosaics in the Milreu Frigidarium.