Mosaic art

   At least 2,000 years ago people were making pictures and designs out of tiny bits of colored stone. Pictures and de­signs made in this way are called mosaics. One mosaic may have thousands or even millions of tiny pieces in it. Making a mo­saic takes a great deal of patience. The tiny pieces have to be set in some kind of cement, and each one must be set in just the right place.
   Some of the finest early mosaics were made in northern Africa. In some of these mosaics there were such birds as swans, peacocks, and flamingos surrounded by leaves and flowers. They were very bright in color. Other mosaics were designs that looked like richly woven carpet.

   When the little Roman city of Pompeii was dug out after it had been buried under lava and ashes for 18 centuries, some beautiful mosaics were found. One is a battle scene 17 feet long. It is now in a museum in Naples. This mosaic looks like a painting. The tiny pieces are marble—red, yellow, olive-green, black, and white.
   In the Middle Ages mosaics were made for churches. The tiny pieces were colored glass. They caught the light and sparkled like jewels. Some of the mosaics were pic­tures of Bible characters. In many the back-ground was all one color, often gold.
   Many people call the Taj Mahal the most beautiful building in the world today. Its walls are decorated with mosaic.