A massive Roman mosaic has been discovered in southern Turkey, underneath a farmer’s field, and reveals the far-reaching influence of the Roman Empire at its peak.
The giant poolside mosaic once decorated the floor of a bath complex, reports Yahoo! News. The pool is about 25-feet long, and most likely was open to the air.
Michael Hoff, a University of Nebraska, Lincoln art historian and director of the mosaic excavation, stated that the find likely dates to the third of fourth century. The entire mosaic is 1.600 square feet, the size of a modest family home. Hoff stated:
“To be honest, I was completely bowled over that the mosaic is that big.”
Purdue University classics professor Nick Rauh discovered the mosaic in 2002 when he walked through a freshly-plowed farmer’s field near the ancient city of Antiochia ad Cragum. The plow had churned up bits of mosaic tile, indicating there was something big underneath.
Rauh consulted with other archaeologists, including experts at the local museum in Alanya, Turkey. Unfortunately, the museum did not have enough funds to excavate more than a sliver of the mosaics, forcing archaeologists to leave the site alone.
NBC News notes that museum archaeologists applied for and were granted a new archaeological permit for the site last year and invited Hoff and his team to complete the dig of the largest Roman mosaic ever discovered.
The researchers have only uncovered 40 percent of the mosaic so far, but they have reported that the floor is in “pristine” condition. It is composed of several large squares, each of which sport a unique geometric design on a white background. The squares have anything from starburst patterns to intertwined loops in them.
The mosaic is the biggest Roman mosaic ever found in southern Turkey, which until now was thought to be rather peripheral to the Roman Empire. But the mosaic’s existence suggests that Antiochia ad Cragum was much more influenced by the Romans than archaeologists previously believed.
Hoff’s team will return to complete the excavation of the Massive Roman mosaic in Turkey next June. Ultimately, they hope to construct a wooden shelter over the mosaic and open the site to public visits.