Unravelling Roman mosaic meander patterns: A simple algorithm for their generation

Yang Liu, Godfried Toussaint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A geometrical analysis of the meander decorative patterns on a Roman pavement mosaic found at the Roman villa in Chedworth, UK, is presented. The analysis reveals that the intricate swastika meander pattern consisting of four closed curves could easily have been constructed using a very simple hypothesized algorithm. The algorithm also explains the design of Roman swastika meanders found throughout the Roman Empire. Connections are indicated between these patterns and the sona traditional art of Angola as well as the kolam traditional art of Tamil South India. The analysis and algorithm described have applications to the classification of geometric mosaic patterns, the design of new patterns and the reconstruction of mosaics that have been partially destroyed by the ravages of time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Mathematics and the Arts
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Celtic knots
  • Chedworth Villa
  • Roman mosaics
  • kolam art
  • meander patterns
  • mirror curves
  • sona drawings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Mathematics
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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