Archaeologists with Cyprus’s Department of Antiquities recently came across a rare, sweeping mosaic floor that depicts the ancient sport of chariot racing held in a Roman hippodrome. Dating to the fourth century CE, the 36-foot-long, 13-feet-wide work cements scenes from one public stadium in colorful stone, featuring four chariots each pulled by springing horses of various hues and commandeered by assertive drivers.
Fryni Hadjichristofi, who led the excavations, said the mosaic is not just the only one of its kind in Cyprus but also stands as just one of a few in the world that depict such a scene. Only seven other known ancient mosaic floors, she told the AP, portray a similar chariot race at the hippodrome. This one is particularly remarkable as it is well-preserved and boasts ornate details as well as complete scenes from the racing tracks: the charioteers actually portray the same man, with the four chariots representing different periods of the competition. Hadjichristofi’s team revealed its recent find at the Piadhia site in Akaki — about 18 miles from Cyprus’ capital, Nicosia — last week, but first came across it last year during ongoing excavations.
“We noticed that there was something under the road,” Hadjichristofi told CNN. “But we really didn’t suspect we had this important thing underneath.” She suspects that the floor was once part of a villa likely owned by a person of wealth during the island’s days of Roman rule.
According to Cyprus Mail, the mosaic also features inscriptions likely recording the names of the racer and of one of the horses. Other figures portrayed include a man on horseback and two bystanders, with one cradling a water vessel and the other wielding a whip.
The Department of Antiquities’ director Marina Ieronymidou noted at the press conference that excavations at the site will continue, with the area possibly opening to the public in the future.
It seems like prime season for mosaic-finding in Cyprus, as just last month, construction crews in the southern coastal city of Larnaca came across another enormous, 2nd century CE floor showing the Labors of Hercules.
Join Hyperallergic for an online conversation with Kiowa Tribal Museum Director Tahnee Ahtone on January 25 at 7pm (EST).
This week, Patrisse Cullors speaks, reviewing John Richardson’s final Picasso book, the Met Museum snags a rare oil on copper by Nicolas Poussin, and much more.
Graduate students in the University of Denver’s Emergent Digital Practices program work on research with faculty who are engaged directly with their communities, both online and off.
Alexi Worth’s paintings demand a double take that allows viewers to look closer and begin dissembling the painting in order to understand what is being looked at.
Anastasia Pelias’s sculpture builds on this mythological legacy, suggesting we all have the ability to commune with a higher power and influence our futures.
Curated by Jill Kearney, this exhibition in Frenchtown, NJ amplifies stories both local and universal with work by Willie Cole, Sandra Ramos, sTo Len, and more.
Jack Spicer’s poetry can be deeply funny and playful but it has a consistent undercurrent of sadness.
Belinda Rathbone’s biography traces the sculptor’s embrace of kinetic mechanisms to his work in the Singer Sewing Machine factory.
The first lecture is on the relationship between early portrait photography and diverse notions of US identity during the Gilded Age. Register to attend on January 25.
It’s the first time in the country’s history that objects of this significance are offered for public sale.
Schwartz was at the forefront of computer-generated art before desktops or the kind of software that makes it commonplace today.
Curator La Tanya S. Autry shares a set of crucial questions she considers when curating images of anti-Black violence.