The mosaics on display in this section come from the private houses of Pompeii, Herculaneum and other towns in Campania and are unique examples in the world. The section is as rich as to be able to document the taste and the ability reached in the art of mosaics, as well as the most used techniques and subjects, in a period spanning from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. With few exceptions, mosaics were floor-decorations, often creating figured panels, even very large ones, called emblémata, a sort of medallions inserted at the centre of the floor of a room. The Museum holds a good selection of them, such as the tondo with lions and putti, the so-called ‘Memento mori’ and the doves drinking from a bowl, etc.
An entire area of the section focuses on the mosaics and the furnishings from the House of the Faun at Pompeii, starting with the bronze statuette, after which the house was named. Unearthed between 1830 and 1832, the House of the Faun revealed one of the most luxurious houses in Pompeii, with its precious coloured mosaics, most likely executed by workshops from Alexandria of Egypt. The exhibition displays some unique examples, which characterized the various spaces, from the entrance threshold with theatre masks to the small mosaics, almost resembling small paintings, which decorated triclinia, alae and cubicula.
Che tour culminates with the very well-known mosaic, depicting the triumph of Alexander the Great over Darius III of Persia, probably the most famous antique mosaic ever, originally installed in the floor of the exaedra, a large room designated for receiving guests. The mosaic, which was inspired to a pictorial model, was executed at the end of the 2nd century BC, using more than a million tiny pieces with the opus vermiculatum technique. The display is also enriched by other examples of mosaic art, with different materials: geometric and figured marble inlays, as well as glass paste pieces, characterized by shining colours, which mirrored sun-light and water in gardens and nymphaeum.