Opus sectile is my O word for today's ABC Wednesday meme.
Opus sectile is an art technique that was popularized in the ancient and medieval Roman world.
Materials such as marble, glass, and mother of pearl were cut and inlaid into floors and walls to make a picture or pattern.
The material was cut into thinnish pieces, polished, and trimmed further according to the chosen pattern.
My first three photos are of a display at last month's 13th Annual Studies of Ancient Jerusalem Conference in Jerusalem.
Remember how I told you about the sifting project, sifting rubble from the Temple Mount?
Well, that's how these opus sectile fragments were found.
It is believed that the tiles above are from Herodian times, some 2,000 years ago, from Herod's expansion and repaving of the Second Temple courtyards.
I think it was sifting staff member Frankie Snyder who made the above "puzzles," one a known pattern from Byzantine times and one from a Crusader church.
Enlarge the photo and see how the actual stone pieces are inserted into the painted model.
I was so impressed!
Here is an opus sectile floor in situ.
It is in the Herodian Quarter (Wohl Museum) in the Jewish Quarter.
The affluent Jewish house from 2,000 years ago is one of six such houses discovered and excavated in 1969-1983.
Their design was influenced by the Hellenistic-Roman style.
Susita (Hippos) in the Golan Heights.
If you want to learn the language of regular mosaics (not opus sectile), the Getty Conservation Institute and the Israel Antiquities Authority developed a wonderful
Illustrated Glossary in pdf.