Date of Award

8-1992

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Classical Studies

Supervisor

K.M.D. Dunbabin

Abstract

The place of dining was the most important and the most lavish room of the ancient Greek house. This lavishness is demonstrated by the decoration on the walls, of which very little survives, and by the decorative mosaics on the floors. This thesis collects information on all known mosaic pavements from the Classical and Hellenistic private dining-rooms and analyzes them in relation to their architectural setting.

The Classical andron is easily recognizable by its location within the house, its layout, elaborate decoration and individual architectural elements, of which the trottoir is by far the most revealing. The Hellenistic dining-room, however, is much more difficult to identify. For although some features of the andron continue to be used until the end of the Hellenistic period, the architecture of the dining-room undergoes a change, which results in a partial loss of its identity. The function of the room at this time is often revealed by the use of a plain edging band, which is placed between the walls and the mosaic of the central floor area and corresponds in size to the trottoir of the Classical andron.

With the exception of a few chip pavements, almost all of the Classical mosaics are made of natural pebbles. This technique is occasionally still implemented during the Hellenistic period, but it generally gives way to the production of mixed and tessellated pavements.

The architectural changes of the room precipitate a change in the composition and decorative schemes of the mosaics. As the square or nearly square-shaped andron changes into a broad rectangular room, the earlier compositional and decorative schemes cannot always be adapted to the specifications of the Hellenistic room.

The identification of the dining-room would have been made easier, if the artists had chosen themes that were related to the ambience of the room. A study in the iconography of the mosaics, however, dismisses any suggestions of a clear relation between the theme and the function of the room.

McMaster University Library

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