Archaeologists conducting excavations at a vineyard in northern Italy have unearthed a well-preserved mosaic floor thought to date to the third century A.D., reports Angela Giuffrida for the Guardian. The swath of multi-colored, intricately patterned tiles once formed part of the foundation of a Roman villa.
Officials first discovered traces of the ancient residence in a hilly area above the town of Negrar di Valpolicella, near Verona, in 1922. But it took nearly a century for researchers to return to the site, according to Camilla Madinelli of local newspaper L’Arena. A team from the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Verona started digging in the area last summer but had to pause work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just one week after resuming excavations, the archaeologists found the mosaics beneath a row of vines, reports the Guardian.
“After countless decades of failed attempts, part of the floor and foundations of the Roman villa located north of Verona, discovered by scholars a century ago, has finally been brought to light,” local authorities note in a statement.
The team discovered the tiles, as well as portions of the villa’s foundation, “a few meters” below the vineyard’s surface, according to the statement. To make the “archaeological treasure … hidden under our feet available and accessible,” the researchers will collaborate with authorities and the vineyard’s owners. The process will likely require both significant time and resources.
“We believe a cultural site of this value deserves attention and should be enhanced,” Negrar di Valpolicella Mayor Roberto Grison tells L’Arena, as translated by the Guardian. “For this reason, together with the superintendent and those in charge of agricultural funds, we will find a way to make this treasure enjoyable.”
The mosaic isn’t the only exciting recent find related to ancient Roman history. Last month, a sinkhole opened up in the street outside of the Pantheon, revealing seven slabs of paving stones tentatively dated to between 27 and 25 B.C.
After months of lockdown, Italian cultural institutions and museums are starting to reopen with new safety measures aimed at reducing the risk of the novel coronavirus’ transmission. As Euronews reports, the Pompeii Archaeological Park reopened this week with temperature checks, one-way walking paths and other social-distancing strictures in place. The Colosseum, meanwhile, is set to welcome visitors as of June 1. Tourists must wear masks and undergo temperature checks prior to gaining entry.