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The Decorated Pavements of Morgantina II: The Opus Signinum

Barbara Tsakirgis
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 94, No. 3 (Jul., 1990), pp. 425-443
DOI: 10.2307/505795
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/505795
Page Count: 19
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The Decorated Pavements of Morgantina II: The Opus Signinum
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Abstract

Opus signinum, a paving material formed of crushed terracotta set in a matrix of cement, is a form of pavement found frequently in the western Mediterranean. The technique is thought to have begun in North Africa, and is commonly found in Hellenistic Sicily and Southern Italy. The Hellenistic town of Morgantina in central Sicily has a great number of signinum floors, which are found primarily in the houses. Thus a study of the floors is a study of private interior decoration. The houses and their attendant floors date from the third century B. C. to the mid-first century A. C. Designs of inset tesserae often enliven opus signinum, and several linear patterns of inset tesserae are common in Morgantina and in other floors in the western Mediterranean. The Morgantinian signinum floors appear in houses that also have mosaic floors, thus affording a comparison of contemporaneous and possibly related paving techniques. Thus far no comprehensive study has been made of all of the opus signium from any site, and the present work is an attempt to establish a model for such a study.

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