The ornately patterned mosaic floor of an ancient Roman villa has been discovered beneath a vineyard in northern Italy.
The intricately patterned floor was recently unearthed by archaeologists on a hillside in the town of Negrar di Valpolicella near Verona, according to an announcement by local authorities. After researchers first discovered an ancient Roman villa on the site in the 1920s, archaeologists have longed to find the decorative floor, but have been met with "decades of failed attempts" until the breakthrough this week. Local authorities say they are now looking into ways to make this archaeological treasure freely "available and accessible" for the public to appreciate.
The path is around 1,900 years old, dated to some point in the first century CE, reports local media Corriere Del Veneto. This was a period often seen as a “golden age” of the Roman Empire. Known as the Pax Romana, Latin for “Roman Peace,” the two centuries between 27 BCE and 180 CE were marked by an unprecedented level of social stability, military might, and economic prosperity through the vast empire — and what better way to celebrate than some fancy mosaics?
“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,” Roberto Grison, the mayor of Negrar di Valpolicella, told the local newspaper L’Arena.
The archaeological dig started in the area last summer but was put on pause due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which hit northern Italy particularly hard. Just one week after the work got back underway, the team discovered the vibrantly decorated path just behind a vine, a stone’s throw away from the site of the Roman villa.
As Italy starts to gently ease its lockdown measures, a number of archaeological and historical sites have opened their doors in an attempt to tempt back tourists to the country. After closing in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, the world-renowned Pompeii Archaeological Park opened up this week with a number of new social distancing measures, such as one-way sidewalks.
“History has shown us that Pompeii is a resilient city par excellence,” Massimo Osanna, head of the Pompeii archaeological park, told reports at the re-opening, Reuters reports.
“It has overcome catastrophes, earthquakes, eruptions, botched archaeological digs, and illegal digs. It has shown that things can rise up from their ashes.”