The most beautiful Aquincum mosaic floors of the last 130 years. New temporary exhibition at the BHM Aquincum Museum. 14 June – 31 October 2024

In the Aquincum Museum’s Archaeological Park, under the auspices of the anniversary exhibition Aquincum 130, in the protective building constructed for the Dirke mosaic, we present a small selection of the jewels of our mosaic collection. The once mosaic-decorated building, located relatively close to the town center, was in all likelihood used as a private residence.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is the conserved and reconstructed emb­lema of the eponymous Dirke mosaic, which, after being removed in the 1800s, can now be seen for the first time in its original location. The walls of the exhibition space present rare treasures: iconic mosaic fragments from the settlement parts of Aquincum – the governor’s palace, the Military Town and the Civil Town – which previously the public could perhaps see only during temporary exhibitions or could not see at all. Through the mosaics, we can gain insights into mythological stories, with for instance the punishment of Dirke or the Hercules-Deianira-Nessus myth coming alive before our eyes. The figural mosaics presented here are unique not only in Pannonia. In terms of their quality and technique, they also occupy a prominent place among mosaics as well as works of other disciplines of art, such as painting and sculpture, known from the Roman Empire. One example is the so-called Hercules-Deianira mosaic, considered to be the most beautiful mosaic in Pannonia, the central figural scene of which is made up of 60,000 tiny, 2-3 mm stone tiles. Through the elaboration of the patterns in the center to the smallest detail and the imitation of the tools of painting, the rough cubic forms of the raw material disappear and the scenes depicted on the mosaics almost come to life for the viewer. The varied patterns of Aquincum’s geometric mosaics include square-shaped decorative elements imitating coffered ceilings, as well as complex motifs imitating swirls, combined from different patterns.

As well as looking at the patterns of the floors in Aquincum laid using tiny stones, we can also learn about the techniques of Roman mosaic making, the tools used, the practical skills, status and earnings of the mosaic makers, the materials used for the mosaic pieces as well as the provenance of marbles.

Anita Kirchhof (curator of the exhibition)

Széchenyi 2020
Széchenyi 2020