This monochrome floor, complete with swastikas, is in Pompeii, one of many hidden by volcanic ash for more than 1,500 years following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Almost all the city’s inhabitants died that day but their everyday objects remained: tables, beds, and chairs, these mosaic floors and some intricately decorated walls. The volcano survives too, there on the horizon, still a presence, still a threat, never entirely tamed by tourism.
The Romans often decorated their floors and walls with swastikas. The Nazis only appropriated this symbol much later. It’s graphic minimalism manages to represent both the very sacred and auspicious in Hinduism and Buddhism, and the vile barbarism of 1940s Germany and today’s Far Right movement.