Ancient History Of Modern Tiles

Notice the intricate backsplash in this modern kitchen? The color and pattern are reminiscent of ancient tilework floors and murals found throughout history.

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WAXHAW, NC – March 25 is Greek Independence Day and 2021 marks the 200th Anniversary of the historic event. And if you can’t tell by my last name, I’m Greek. So I found it fitting to tie my love for tiles with my love of history and Greece to write this week’s column.

The English word ‘ceramic’ comes from the Greek word ‘keramos’ for pottery, but the word’s origin comes from Sanskrit meaning ‘to burn.’ Ceramic tiles were dried out in the heat or fired up in a hot oven and used for roofs, dating back to at least Ancient Egypt. Tile roofs are common around the world because tiles hold up well in prolonged heat.

Advances have allowed tiles to be used basically anywhere. Ancient buildings in Greece, India, and Egypt created intricate tile floors. Back then, tile crafting was done by hand—a very time-consuming job! Today, you can choose hand-crafted tiles for your home too. Artisan tiles sell for a premium, but they add a unique look to your project.

This ancient tile floor in Ephesus in modern Turkey is intricately patterned and colored. Notice the round pattern used to frame the artwork on the floor. Now take a look at the modern backsplash and how similar tile patterns continue to adorn homes today.

Mosaics are rooted in ancient times, too. Created out of broken glass and ceramic pieces, handmade mosaics stand the test of time. Durable modern mosaics are on buildings or in art museums, but also in home kitchens! Backsplashes with unique designs and patterns create murals that are a feast for the eyes.

Have questions on how to add modern flair with this “ancient” material? Email or visit This Greek would be happy to help!

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