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Roman mosaic floor unearthed in Negrar di Valpolicella, Italy .           Source: Comune di Negrar di Valpolicella

Pristine Roman Mosaic Floor Found Under Vineyard In Italy

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In Italy, archaeologists, have unearthed a beautiful and perfectly preserved Roman mosaic floor. Experts found the decorated floor, under a vineyard. The pristine condition of the mosaic has amazed the archaeologists and they have hailed it as a major find. The floor is believed to have been part of a luxurious villa that was first discovered nearly a century ago.

In 1922, the remains of a Roman villa, was unearthed in the hills above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella near Verona in Northern Italy. This was extensively investigated but the site was later abandoned, despite the fact that the original archaeologists believed that there was more to be found. Through the years there were many surveys of the area but nothing else was unearthed - that is, until a few weeks ago.

Mosaic under the vines

A team of archaeologists from the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona, began to investigate the area where the villa had been unearthed back in 1922.

While examining some ground under a vineyard they found something amazing, a pristine mosaic, that once decorated a floor. The BBC quotes the local commune’s website as saying that “diggers finally made the discovery after decades of failed attempts”. 

The find was first made in the Fall of 2019 and the researchers returned to further investigate the location, ‘before the excavation was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic’, The Guardian reports. However after work resumed, archaeologists found the mosaic floor from the villa that had been discovered nearly a century ago.

The mosaic was found in pristine condition. (Image: Comune di Negrar di Valpolicella)

The mosaic was found in pristine condition. (Image: Comune di Negrar di Valpolicella )

The art of the mosaic

The decorated floor is made of small shaped pieces of stone, known as tesserae. They would have been laid into the floor of the villa by specially trained craft persons and they were formed in elaborate geometric designs. The designs on the floor include spirals and lines. It is possible that as more of the floor is revealed some figures or even portraits may be revealed.

Mosaics were highly prized by elite Romans, and they were something of a status symbol, with many being found throughout their former provinces. What is special about this find is that it is undamaged and in a pristine state. This is despite the fact that it was under the earth for centuries.

Treasure under our feet

Experts are now slowly bringing more of the mosaic to light. The treasure was found on some private property and the authorities are collaborating with the owner. CTV News quotes a Facebook post by the commune of Negrar di Valpolicella , stating that they are ‘identifying the most appropriate ways to make this archaeological treasure hidden under our feet available and accessible’.

Although more excavation is required, the part s far exposed is almost intact. (Image: Comune di Negrar di Valpolicella)

Although more excavation is required, the part s far exposed is almost intact. (Image: Comune di Negrar di Valpolicella )

Roberto Grison, the mayor of Negrar di Valpolicella, is quoted by The Guardian as stating that ‘We believe a cultural site of this value deserves attention and should be enhanced’. The local commune is committed to raising funds for the preservation of the mosaic and to allow members of the public to enjoy it. The decorated floor, like so many other Roman examples, may eventually go on display in a museum.

Secrets of the villa

This discovery may allow researchers to find out more about the villa found in the hills almost a hundred years ago. The BBC reports that ‘Technicians are still gently excavating the site to see the full extent of the ancient building’. As a result of these investigations, they may be able to find more remains of the villa and be able to understand its construction and design.

The mosaic is believed to have come from a private home that dates to the 3 rd century AD. This is a period, known as the Third Century Crisis that nearly witnessed the end of the Roman Empire , because of war, economic dislocation, famine, and plagues. Traditionally it is seen as a time of decay and decline. However, the discovery may show that at least in provincial Italy, conditions were stable and prosperous enough to allow for the production of expensive and elaborate mosaics, in a private dwelling.

Top image: Roman mosaic floor unearthed in Negrar di Valpolicella, Italy .           Source: Comune di Negrar di Valpolicella

By Ed Whelan

 
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