Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient Roman mosaic floor beneath a vineyard in Negrar di Valpolicella, near the city of Verona. The remarkably preserved blue and vermilion tiles—used in houses of the wealthy and powerful—are believed to date to the third century AD. This story reminded us of the great archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans known for unearthing the palace of Knossos on the Greek island of Crete.
The intricately patterned floor discovered by the archaeologists once formed part of the foundation of a Roman villa. It was in 1922 when officials first discovered traces of the ancient residence in the area. However, it took almost a century for researchers to come back to the site to conduct excavations. Last October and again in February, a team from the Superintendent of Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Landscape of Verona began digging at the site but had to cancel work due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, just one week after resuming excavations, archaeologists found the mosaic floor under a row of vines.
“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,” authorities from Negrar di Valpolicella wrote on the town’s Facebook page.
The group discovered the tiles and portions of the villa’s foundation a few meters below the vineyard’s surface. The researchers will coordinate with the authorities and the owners of the vineyard to make the archaeological treasure accessible. The process will most likely require significant time and resources.
In a statement translated by The Guardian, Negrar di Valpolicella Mayor Roberto Grison told local newspaper L’Arena: “We believe a cultural site of this value deserves attention and should be enhanced. 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 superintendent will now liaise with the owners of the area and municipality to identify the most appropriate ways of making this archaeological treasure, which has always been hidden beneath our feet, available and accessible.”
These ancient mosaic tiles aren’t the only exciting discoveries made recently. Last month, a sinkhole opened up in the street outside of Pantheon. It revealed seven slabs of paving stones dating back 2,000 years. The seven travertine slabs were found 2.5 meters under Piazza Della Rotonda. Sinkholes are a common problem in Rome; thankfully, the usually packed square was empty when the pavement collapsed last month.
After months of lockdown, Italy’s cultural spots are gradually coming back to life. Museums are also starting to reopen with new safety measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to a report from Euronews, the Pompeii Archaeological park opened its doors to the public this week. Before anyone is allowed to go inside, their temperatures are checked. There are also one-way walking paths and other social distancing protocols in place. The entrance price has also been reduced to €5 ($5).
On June 1, the Colosseum will once again be open to visitors. Guests are obliged to purchase their tickets online. They must also wear masks and undergo temperature checks before they are allowed entry.
Watch video below to learn more about this story: