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.
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.
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.
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.
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.