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tessellated pavement

interior or exterior floor covering composed of stone tesserae (Latin: "dice"), cubes, or other regular shapes closely fitted together in simple or complex designs with a durable and waterproof cement, mortar, clay, or grout. Deriving from Greek pebble mosaic (q.v.) pavings of the 8th or 7th century BC, tessellated pavement appeared in the Hellenistic Age and by the 1st century AD had come into popular use in public and private buildings throughout the Roman Empire. The technique was ideally suited to paving baths, courtyards, and building interiors; early black-and-white pavements were arranged in simple figure scenes or geometrical designs. By the 1st century AD the use of tesseraei (see tessera) had enabled such precise design and colour gradation that original artworks and reproductions of paintings in tessellated pavements were common.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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