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“Usque Ad Ultimum Terrae”: Mapping The Ends Of The Earth In Two Medieval Floor Mosaics

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Chapter Summary

In the eleventh, twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, figurative floor mosaics were laid in a number of churches in northern Italy, part of a wider revival of the art in Western Europe. The pavements feature a broad range of imagery, including subjects of a geographical, and even cartographical, nature. Two examples from Piedmont, in which such imagery is accompanied by unusually full and specific inscriptions, are of particular interest here: the well-known mosaic from S. Salvatore in Turin, which depicts the oceanic islands and winds familiar from medieval mappaemundi; and the presbytery pavement of Asti cathedral, which includes personifications of the Rivers of Paradise. While the pavement of Asti cathedral is far less conventionally cartographic than the S. Salvatore floor, it too possesses a strong spatial aspect.

Keywords: Asti cathedral; medieval floor mosaics; S. Salvatore

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