A 2,000 year-old Roman mosaic has been unveiled at a shopping mall in England. The ancient artwork has been initially discovered by construction workers building the shopping mall in southeast England back in 1988 but due to insufficient funding to study the artifact, the mosaic’s location was only recorded and covered back up.
The shoppers who walked over the ancient mosaic remained unaware of its existence for the next 35 years.
Recently, the Lion Walk Shopping Centre and the Colchester Borough Council launched a project to unveil the intricately patterned mosaic and safeguard it under a layer of glass, as reported by Sarah Rose Sharp of Hyperallergic.
Colchester, located around 60 miles northeast of London, was England’s first Roman capital and Britain’s oldest documented town.
Consequently, Roman artifacts, including more than 40 mosaics identified by the Colchester Archaeological Trust, continue to surface periodically, according to Jo Lawson-Tancred of Artnet.
The trust’s director, Philip Crummy, said, “Colchester is not well enough known for its Roman heritage as it ought to be.”
If a royal visit wasn't enough, we've discovered a piece of history that's been buried beneath our city for almost 2,000 years! 😲
We are working with @colchestercitycouncil and colch_archaeological_trust to excavate and preserve this artwork. pic.twitter.com/jNUON7NL2N
— Lion Walk (@ShopLionWalk) March 21, 2023
Martin Leatherdale, who manages the shopping center, said lots of people are interested in what they’re doing.
“We think we know what we need to do to uncover the whole thing properly by the summer,” he told the Colchester Gazette’s Daniel Rees.
The archaeologists have uncovered about one-fifth of the whole mosaic so far, including some bits that weren’t found the first time they looked in the late 1980s. They want to finish the project and show off the mosaic to everyone by the end of the summer.
History of Colchester
Colchester used to be called Camulodunum, named after the god of war. After a successful invasion of Britain in 43 C.E. by the Roman emperor Claudius, he told his army to build a fortress at Camulodunum.
A few years later, the site became a town for civilians and was chosen as the first capital of Rome’s new province, as explained by Britannica.
When the town was mostly made up of retired soldiers, they built many different buildings, including a temple for Claudius. The town also had three theaters, a senate house, townhouses, and a Roman circus for chariot racing.
However, in 60 C.E., the town and many of its buildings burned down during a rebellion against the Romans led by the Iceni and Trinovantes people who lived in the area.
The town was rebuilt later with a big wall around it. Two-thirds of the wall still stands today. Moreover, tourists can visit the Colchester Castle museum, which was built where the temple used to be.