Nikopolis

Comprehensive guide to the mosaics of Greece.

Greece, Mosaics and Me, Part II: A guide to the mosaics of Greece.

Helen Miles Mosaics.
Nereid riding a sea centaur. Sparta Archaeological Museum, Greece. 3rd century AD. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaics

I’ve left!

To mark the fact that my days of being permanently based in Athens have come to an end, my previous post was a personal story about my mosaic journey in Greece. As well as learning how to make mosaics there and practicing the art for over a decade, I also visited and explored as many mosaic sites as possible across the length of the country: ancient and modern, famous and obscure, well preserved and neglected.

Helen Miles Mosaics
Mantlepiece mosaic, Theodora (?), Candili, Evvia, Greece. Photo: @Helen Miles Mosaic

I know that there are many more sites left to see, particularly on the islands, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to visit them in the years to come, but meanwhile in Part II of this two-part series about Greece, Mosaics and Me, I have compiled a comprehensive guide to the mosaics of Greece for visitors and mosaic enthusiasts. Continue reading

Snap! Comparing ancient mosaics.

Mosaic floor in situ, Pompeii bath house.
Mosaic octopus, Pompeii bath house. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics
Octopos, Isthmia
Mosaic octopus. Isthmia, Greece. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Finding similarities between ancient mosaics

The day is done. The dishwasher is rumbling away, the boys are arrayed on the sofa in front of the TV, the dog is stretched out in the part of the sitting room that he has claimed as his own and I slink off, tea in hand, to my computer. It’s my way of unwinding.  A quick check for any interesting mosaic pins on Pinterest,  a glance at mosaic matters on Twitter (oh, how I love it’s brevity), followed by a longer, slower look at what fellow mosaicists are up to on Facebook, clicking through to interesting links they’ve posted which often leads on to another link and then another… And as the idle minutes pass, day after day, I start to notice certain similarities between ancient mosaics from all over the Roman world.

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Leaf border design. Byzantine Museum, Thessaloniki. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics
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Leaf border design. Nikopolis, Greece. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics
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Leaf border design. Stobi, Macedonia. Photo: Helen Miles Mosaics

Continue reading

The Mosaics of Nikopolis, Greece.

A chance encounter with the Mosaics of Nikopolis, Greece.

Border design, NikopolisWe were in the car heading up the west coast of Greece to meet friends in Epirus during the Greek Easter break. The journey was long, the roads were atrocious and I had no appetite for sight seeing along the way. Many years of veering off major roads to follow brown signs promising interesting archeological remains and either ending up hopelessly lost  in a farmer’s yard, getting to the site to find it firmly closed with the desolate air of a place that hadnt been open for decades,  or finally reaching it only to discover a pile of unremarkable stones, had thoroughly put me off experimentation. So we whizzed on past brown signs aplenty, my mind firmly focused on our beachside destination,  until an unusually plantive cry from my sightseeing-obssessed son in the back seat persuaded me to pull over. Grudgingly, I agreed to see where this particular sign led, and so we took a narrow country road heading, so I thought, to nowhere.

Bird with ribbon, Nikopolis

A padlocked gate and dilapidated sign

Sure enough, we arrived in front of a large padlocked gate and a delapidated sign and I felt vindicated. Undeterred, the sightseeing son leapt out, followed by his younger brother and the dog and – undaunted by the locked gates – climbed over a half collapsed wall. I stayed in the car. Then, a few minutes later I heard an excited cry: ‘mosaics!’ I climbed up on the wall and shouted back: ‘worth seeing?’ A son appeared  and replied: ‘yes’. So down I went over the grass covered wall, sliding through a gap between the stones, trying not to think about snakes and still slightly thinking that that they wouldnt be worth the effort. How wrong I was. I will never, ever say no to a brown sign again.

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This, withoout us knowing it in advance, was once the city of Nikopolis founded by Octavian in 31BC after he defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium. This was something special.

Fisherman, Nikopolis.

The mosaics are in newly constructed open-sided brick structures – covered, but with nothing to protect them from the rain slanting in or  from people walking over them or indeed doing much worse. Let them speak for themselves:

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