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 Alexander-Darius's Battle of Issus Mosaic Returns to Pompeii


05 October 2005


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Pompeii's famed Alexander Mosaic has been recreated in the heart of the buried city's largest villa .

The mosaic, perhaps the most famous in the ancient world, shows the Macedonian warlord leading the decisive charge against Emperor Darius III of Achaemenid dynasty at the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC .

A copy has now been meticulously assembled by modern mosaic craftsmen in Ravenna and placed in its original location in the exedra or courtyard of the House of the Faun .

The huge work - 5.84 by 3.17 meters - is now housed in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples along with other treasures from the House .

It is believed to be a copy of a famous painting by the fourth century BC Greek painter Philossenos. The million and a half tiles or tesserae were reproduced using stones similar to the original ones .

They were cut by a special machine in Ravenna and then hand-worked to hone the stone to tesserae of a millimetre and half. The House of the Faun covers 3,000 square metres, an entire city block .

It takes its name from an impish statue at its entrance, now also in Naples and replaced by a copy. The villa's grandeur and elegance is superior to all the other buildings in Pompeii, which was laid waste - but also preserved - by hot ash from an eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD .



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