The rarest finds were made on a farm field by accident.
The son of a farmer in central England discovered the remains of a rich Roman villa in his own field, with a unique mosaic depicting a scene from Homer’s Iliad. Archaeologists claim that the find has a completely unique character.
The villa and the mosaic with the scene of Homer’s glorified battle between Achilles and Hector were found quite by accident, the BBC says.
The son of a farmer from the English county of Rutland, Jim Irwin, during last year’s lockdown, walked through a field that his family had been cultivating for decades, and came across unusual shards. The man became interested in the find.
“Our family has been cultivating this land for fifty or sixty years,” the BBC quoted Jim Irwin as saying. “I found clay shards that were not like any shards I had seen before. We returned to this place with a shovel, I dug a shallow trench – and it turned out that I was right on the spot. “
“The discovery of unusual pottery among wheat piqued my interest and prompted further investigations,” said Jim Irwin. – Later, while studying satellite images, I noticed a very clear mark, as if someone had drawn on my computer screen with chalk! It really was a “wow!” And the beginning of the story. This archaeological discovery has taken up most of my free time over the past year. I was very busy between my regular job and this job, and it was an exciting journey. Last year became a real passion for me when I worked with archaeologists and students at this place, and I can only imagine what will be discovered next time! “
Irwin called in archaeologists from the University of Leicester, experts began excavations – and now the field with the ancient Roman villa and mosaics was included in the list of protected antiquities as one of the most “remarkable and important” finds of this kind in England.
The size of the mosaic, which apparently adorned the floor of the living room or dining room, is 11 by 7 meters. In addition to the mosaic floor, archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a large villa built in the late Roman period, between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, with a main house, outbuildings and, presumably, a bathhouse.
Mosaics were used in various private and public buildings throughout the Roman Empire and featured prominent figures from history and mythology. As the BBC reminds, in ancient times England was part of the Roman Empire for three and a half centuries, and quite a few remains of buildings of that era were found in it, including with mosaics, but paintings with a literary plot, the battle of Achilles and Hector at the walls of Troy, in Great Britain, has not yet been found.
“This is by far the most interesting mosaic found in Britain over the past century,” said John Thomas, Deputy Director of the Archaeological Survey at the University of Leicester. “It allows you to take a fresh look at the people of that time, at their attitude to classical literature.”
According to the expert, the archaeological find tells a lot about the person who ordered the mosaic – he was a fairly wealthy person who knew the classics well.
Due to the fact that the antique villa discovered by archaeologists is located on private land, outsiders cannot look at it. However, scientists are making arrangements with the Rutland County authorities to arrange an exhibition of the finds somewhere else. Excavations will continue next year.