Friday, June 9, 2017


Archaeologists have unearthed statues, elaborate mosaics and other treasures in a 1,700-year old villa in Ptolemais, a key trading port for the ancient Romans on the Libyan coast.

The artifacts and a hoard of 553 sestercii silver and bronze coins hailing back to Roman Republican times were found in a vast building about 600 square meters in area, dating to the 3rd Century AD.

Most of the coins were found inside a room inside the house where terracotta lamps were manufactured. The coins may have been the earnings of local craftsmen, said archaeologist Jerzy Zelazowski of Warsaw University.

The ancient city was established almost 2,300 years ago, at the turn of the 4th Century BC, by ancient Greeks. Its original name is not known, but it gained the name "Ptolemais" during the reign of the Ptolemaic empire over Egypt.

The villa with the recovered mosaics was built hundreds of years later around a courtyard in classic Roman peristyle arrangement.

Among the loveliest of its mosaics is one depicting a sleeping Dionysus and Ariadne … a daughter of King Minos, who according to legend, would become the god's wife.

Two other mosaics in the villa, one in the courtyard and one in the dining room, bear the name "Leukaktios". The name later was superimposed on the stonework, possibly due to ownership change during its centuries of occupation.

The villa walls bore colorful frescos, imitating marble revetments with geometric designs. Several walls are covered with figural paintings, mainly depicting various species of birds.

The end of this elegant house, after centuries of occupation, was probably due to the endless earthquakes plaguing the region. 

Two in particular, striking in the mid 3rd Century AD, may have doomed the house: the treasure of silver and bronze coins were found within the destruction layers inside the house.

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