Archaeologists have excavated an almost entirely intact Roman mosaic villa floor just outside of Verona, and it could be this year’s biggest archaeological discovery.
Archaeologists in Italy discovered the ultimate buried treasure this week: an ancient Roman mosaic floor beneath a vineyard near Verona. And it’s perfectly preserved.
The pristine mosaic has been hidden underneath the soil since the 3rd century. Situated in a private vineyard in the town of Negrar di Valpolicella, the tile flooring is believed to be part of an ancient Domus, the type of home owned by wealthy Romans. Excavators have been working to outline the building’s perimeters and dig for notable artifacts since October of 2019. Town officials say they’re working to make the discovery available to the public as more of the find is exposed.
Locals have rumored the vineyard contained Roman ruins since at least the 19th century, with numerous attempts made during the subsequent decades to find the villa. Another, smaller mosaic was discovered in 1975 and covered back up with soil for preservation. Last summer, archaeologists returned to the site, digging long, skinny exploratory trenches among the terraced vines with the goal of systematically locating the full villa.
At first they found walls, a stone slab pavement and steps believed to be part of the service area of the villa, so not a place where expensive mosaic flooring would be.
In August they unearthed the northernmost edge of the 1922 excavation and the first mosaic emerged. At that point, they had to stop due to budgetary limitations and because it is a working vineyard, after all, and late summer/early fall is their busy season. Works resumed in October after the vintage and again in February, only to be shut down again by coronavirus quarantine. A week after excavations finally picked up again, archaeologists finally hit pay dirt.
The site near Verona – which boasts many of the civilization’s ruins, like the Piazza delle Erbe, Arena, and Piazza Bra – is believed to contain more hidden artifacts, architecture and infrastructure underneath its soil.
Vineyards combined with amazing archaeological sites? Sounds like a good recipe to us.