The history of mosaic art has a foundation that goes back to 4000 years or more, in the early cultures of Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Byzantine. Each of these empires developed a unique and distinctive style to their mosaics, and their influences have been transmitted to other cultures throughout history and affect mosaic artists in our modern day. Historians have a hard time pin pointing the exact origins of this ancient art. Evidence tells us that mosaics originated in southern Mesopotamia and were first made with Terra Cotta cones embedded in the walls and columns of buildings. These cones were colored and laid in geometric patterns then tightly pressed tightly together into a wall coated with a thick layer of wet plaster. This technique was termed Cone mosaic. These cones were used to decorate monumental mud-brick cult and palace architecture. By the eighth century BC, there were pebble pavements, using different stones to create patterns, although these tended to be unstructured decoration. It was the Greeks, in the fourth century BC who raised the pebble technique to an art form, with precise geometric patterns and detailed scenes of people and animals.
By 200 BC, specially manufactured pieces – “tesserae” were being used to give extra detail and range of color to work. Using small tesserae, sometimes only a few millimeters in size, meant that mosaics could imitate paintings. Many of the mosaics preserved at Pompeii were the work of Greek artists.