3,400-Year-Old Citadel Found in Basement
Guy Fitoussi, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority
An aerial photograph shows the ancient citadel.
Italian archaeologists digging in a small Tuscan village have unearthed part of what they believe is a large and impressive ancient Roman mosaic. The artwork lies in a private property next to a local road in the village Capraia e Limite.Ancient Roman Mosaic Found in Tuscany
One mosaic, dating to the second half of the 4th century AD, shows geometric patterns framed by floral motifs. The other, dating to the 5th century AD, boasts octagons decorated with animals, flowers and a human bust.Villa Owned by Ben-Hur's Rival Identified
The large mosaic graced the floor of a luxurious Roman villa that stood in the Tuscan countryside for four centuries, from the 1st to the beginning of the 6th century AD. Evidence of the villa was first found in 1983, when workers digging to build an orchard unearthed an inscription mentioning one of the owners of the complex. It read: Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, referring to one of the most famous pagan senators of the later 4th century AD.Photos: Excavating an Ancient Villa
In the beginning of the 6th century AD, the villa was completely abandoned and plundered of any material that could be recycled. Luckily, the floor mosaics could not be removed. Excavations in 2013 brought to light a stunning oval mosaic with a wild boar hunting scene which dates to the second half of the 4th century AD. Because of legal issues and lack of funding, the mosaic was covered soon after its discovery in order to preserve it.1500-Year-Old Mosaic Map Found
The finding prompted new investigations. Archaeologists Lorella Alderighi of the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany, and Federico Cantini of the University of Pisa, speculated the floor mosaic extends further. In fact, parts of two floor mosaics came to light.
The older mosaic consisted of geometric patterns framed by red decorations with acanthus and vine leaves in various shades of grey, blue and black.
The other mosaic, dating to the 5th century AD, displayed scenes with animals, flowers, geometric patterns framed by octagons. At the center of one of the octagons is the bust of a man with a tunic and large eyes.
According to the archaeologists, the investigated portion of the villa had an hexagonal structure with rooms opening onto a central hall.
The archaeologists estimate the size of the floor mosaic to be about 300 square meters (984 square feet). They only have unearthed one-eighth of it. Unfortunately, most of the mosaic lay beneath an industrial shed. Although the archaeologists believe the artwork is still intact, it's unlikely it will be brought to light in the near future.
The newly unearthed mosaics have been already covered for preservation -- like the mosaic with the hunting scene. Alessandro Giunti, mayor of Capraia e Limite, said that at least one mosaic, the one featuring the wild boar hunting scene, will be restored and displayed in the near future.
There is a 3,400-year-old citadel in my basement. That’s what the residents of an apartment high-rise in the Israeli coastal city of Nahariya will be able to say soon.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Wednesday it reached an agreement with a construction company to have the remains of a Bronze Age citadel incorporated in a building that is being erected near the beach on Balfour Street.
Archaeologists uncovered the ruins during a large excavation which was carried out as the Kochav construction company started building a residential high-rise with underground parking.
“It seems the citadel was used as an administrative center that served the mariners who sailed along the Mediterranean coast 3,400 years ago. There was probably a dock alongside the citadel,” Nimrod Getzov, Yair Amitzur and Ron Be’eri, the IAA excavation directors, said in a statement.
Numerous artifacts were discovered in the citadel’s rooms, including ceramic figurines with human and animal forms, bronze weapons, and imported pottery vessels — evidence of extensive commercial and cultural relations with Cyprus and the rest of the lands in the Mediterranean basin.
“The fortress was destroyed at least four times by an intense conflagration, and each time it was rebuilt,” the archaeologists said.
An abundance of cereal, legumes and grape seeds were found in the burnt layers. According to the excavators, they are indicative of the provisions the sailors would purchase.
“Given the extraordinary nature and quality of the finds, the Israel Antiquities Authority sought a solution that would allow the conservation of some of the remains for the benefit of the public,” the IAA said.
Following a plan by architect Alex Shpol, at the Interior Ministry’s regional committee for planning and construction, the building’s basement will become a museum “for the enjoyment of the residents and visitors,” the IAA said.