- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 03 Jul 2018
By 200 BC, the earliest forms of tesserae, made from marble and limestone, had replaced natural pebbles in the mosaics created by Hellenic builders. Roman mosaics, used to decorate both panels and floors, tended to use stone cut into small cubes and arranged in designs and geometric patterns.
At around the same time, tesserae made of smalto (coloured glass) began to be produced to provide mosaics with colours that could not be found in natural stone. Between the first and third centuries AD, glass tesserae started to be used for wall mosaics as they were not required to be as durable as floors, for which stone still tended to be favoured.
A variation of glass tesserae were made with thin plates of gold or silver sandwiched between two slabs of molten glass and cut into cubes. These were a common feature in Early Christian and Byzantine mosaics.
Ceramic tesserae became common in the Middle Ages, later rivaling glass as a major material in modern mosaics. As well as ceramic, other materials that have been used to form tesserae include shell, painted stone, terracotta, enamel and mother-of-pearl.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Intricate inlays and beautiful patterns can be created with waterjet cutting.
Two historic quarries in environmentally sensitive areas were reopened to repair Exeter Cathedral.
The phrase ‘time at large’ describes the situation where there is no date for completion, or it has become invalid.
The Maldives is under threat from climate change. Read this report from BRE on their potential involvement in the region.
MHCLG update states there are still 124 private high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding and no remediation plan.
Starting a new built environment degree? We have a wide range of resources aimed at students.
Former railway chief James Blake says trust and control are key to successful infrastructure projects.
Do you know your Rococo from your De Stijl, your Gothic from your Post-modernist?
May outlines a new funding strategy for housing associations and says the 'stigma' of social housing needs to end.
RIBA launches a consultation on a new Plan of Work for Fire Safety.