Amateur Archaeologists Uncover Huge Ancient Mosaic

The little town in England now hopes for funds to remove and display the artwork.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/world/europe/uk-boxford-roman-mosaic.html?mcubz=3

Boxford Villa mosaic. Source: Boxford Parish Blog via the NYT

Amateur archaeologists in England made an astonishing discovery last week when they unearthed a 1,000 year old Roman mosaic. The 20 foot long (6 meters) mosaic is said to be the most important find made in Britain for more than 50 years. The mosaic was unearthed by volunteers, just as the dig—and funding—was coming to an end.

The mosaic, which dates back to 380 A.D., was probably a part of a Roman villa, towards the end of the Roman rule in Britain. According to the New York Times, the mosaic depicts Bellerophon, “a hero of Greek mythology who was sent to kill the chimera, a fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, the torso of a goat and the tail of a serpent”. Hercules is pictured fighting a centaur, and Cupid is featured as well in the artwork.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/world/europe/uk-boxford-roman-mosaic.html?mcubz=3

Boxford volunteers dusting off the mosaic. Source: Boxford Parish Blog via the NYT

According to Anthony Beeson from the Association for Roman Archaeology, the subject matter of the mosaic is a bit of an anomaly. “It is so unusual because it has all sorts of quirks which you don’t expect, and it has subjects on it that are completely alien to mosaics in this country,” said Beeson. The historian added that this is possibly the “most creative” mosaic from the era that he’s ever seen.

The discovery is especially important for residents of Boxford, England, population approx. 300, where the mosaic sheds light on an ancient settlement in the area, as well as what has now become known as the Boxford Villa. Residents hope the mosaic can be fully uncovered by next year and available for public view—unfortunately this scenario is unlikely given removing the delicate artifact will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Anyway, the find is a great encouragement for the volunteer group of amateur archaeologists—ranging in age from 9 years old to 80. “I was stunned into silence” recalled Joy Appleton from the Boxford History Project. Matt Nichol, a professional archaeologist supervising the dig praised the commitment of the volunteers, saying “It was down to the volunteers, it really was. I get quite emotional about it; it was something to see their drive,” added Mr. Nichol.

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