Archaeologists from Historic England and the University of Leicester, UK, recently discovered a second mosaic, following a similar discovery in 2020 dating back to the period of Roman England. The artwork could be a piece of the floor of a dining room in a villa. The discoveries were made in Rutland, UK.

Excavations in 2020 revealed the remains of a mosaic depicting the story of the legendary hero Achilles from the Iliad and his battle with the Trojan prince Hector. The artwork forms the floor of what is thought to be a dining room in a large villa, occupied in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, during the Late Roman period.

The Iliad, also known as the Ilion, is an ancient Greek poem traditionally attributed to the poet Homer.

The Iliad takes place during the Trojan War, in the midst of which a coalition of Mycenaean Greek kingdoms led by King Agamemnon besieges the city of Troy. The Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature and recounts the quarrels between Agamemnon and Achilles.

A mosaic and a foray into Roman England

A geophysical survey and a series of additional archaeological assessments carried out at the time revealed several buildings, including what appeared to be barns with aisles, a possible bath house, circular structures and a series of boundary ditches.

Photo source: Historic England/Eureka

The ongoing 2022 excavations uncovered a large hall, located 50 meters from the main villa, which was probably an old barn, originally built of wood and transformed into a stone structure during the 3rd century- century or IV AD. One end of the structure was used for agricultural or craft work, while the other end was an extensive domestic area that featured a bathhouse, comprising a hot and a cold room.

There is evidence of sophisticated underfloor heating, which used different techniques to maintain different temperatures and heating pipes built into the walls, according to Heritage Daily.

Archaeological evidence suggests a high standard of living

Focusing on the main villa, the team found fragments of polished marble, broken stone columns and painted plaster on the walls. Most notable is the evidence of mosaics in the corridors leading to the dining room, one of which is relatively intact and features an intricate geometric pattern that probably dates from the same period of construction as the Trojan War mosaic.

The new discoveries provide further evidence to suggest that the villa was occupied by a wealthy individual, also suggesting that the property may have been inhabited earlier than previously thought.

“It is a fascinating site and has raised many questions about life in Roman England. The answers will become clearer as the evidence is examined by a team of specialists over the coming years, and their work will help us understand the story of this complex villa and its significance for our understanding of Roman England,” said the director Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson.

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