Underground Art



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Ever wonder how something buried in ruins ends up looking fabulous and monumental in a museum? Find out as you follow the journey of a centuries-old mosaic that made its way from Turkey to Indy by way of the Louvre.

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00:00:19 The Judgment of Paris is a story from Greek mythology in which a young shepherd, by the name of Paris, was approached by the god Mercury to settle a dispute among the three goddesses,

00:00:30 Venus, Minerva, and Juno who were arguing amongst themselves as to who was the most beautiful. Paris chose Venus, the goddess of love, and so as reward

00:00:41 he won Helen, which started the Trojan War.

00:00:45 This story took place in Daphne, a suburb of the city of Antioch in modern day Turkey, and that's where this mosaic was found.

00:01:01 The mosaic was found during an excavation that was really underwritten by the French and steered by the Louvre itself.

00:01:10 This excavation was directed by the Princeton University during the '30s. The National Museum in France took part in this excavation.

00:01:21 That's the reason why part of the discoveries came to the Louvre after this excavation.

00:01:29 [Music]

00:01:35 With a specialist workshop in Arles in south of France, we directed a very big campaign of restoration,

00:01:46 they changed the support and now the new support is a specific material for this kind of panel.

00:01:52 [Music]

00:01:59 [Music]

00:02:22 Typically, mosaics are transferred by, first, facing them with some sort of sticky glue substance and then really removing almost all but the mosaic itself.

00:02:34 You don't take a huge chunk out of the floor, its really a very thin layer enough to keep the tessera in place.

00:02:43 Tessera are the small little squares of stone, or tile, that make up a mosaic.

00:02:51 [Music]

00:02:59 This panel came seven years ago in U.S. for an exhibition about the Mosaics of Antioch in the Princeton University Museum. So, this is the second time it has come to the U.S.

00:03:13 The mosaic gives us the best indication of what Roman wall paintings are like, so they are terribly beautiful and terribly instructive.