Cambridge University

Ax:son Johnson Centre for the Study of Classical Architecture

Konogan Beaufay on Roman Mosaics for Drawing Matter


CSCA Fellow Konogan Beaufay on Polychrome Roman Mosaics

Discovered in 1872 near Rome’s Termini train station, a rare polychrome mosaic reveals the only known Roman bath building plan. Comprising just three fragments, the mosaic depicts symmetrical bath complexes with various rooms, a basin, and a potential palaestra. Colored tesserae denote key architectural elements, while Roman numerals suggest dimensions in Roman feet. Dated to the 2nd or 3rd century CE, the mosaic’s purpose remains elusive. While not a cadastral plan, it may serve as a detailed reproduction of an architect’s drawing or aid in orientating bathhouse visitors. This unparalleled artifact provides a unique glimpse into Roman architectural history.

Read more on Konogan Beaufay’s work on Roman mosaics on Drawing Matter

Polychrome Mosaic with Building Plan, Regio V, Via Marsala, from the 2nd century AD (4th q) to the 3rd century AD (1st q). Photograph. Copyright of Roma, Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali.