Archaeologists in Arles, France, have exposed an intact Roman mural, the first of its kind ever discovered outside the Italian peninsula.
The massive eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE is known for the destruction and loss of life it caused within the Roman settlements of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Yet this natural disaster also provided a wealth of knowledge about 1st-century Roman culture due to the remarkable preservation of everyday objects and, more specifically, murals that adorned the cities’ public and domestic structures. Indeed, a large portion of what historians know about Roman painting comes directly from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Roman murals have also been discovered, in varying degrees of preservation, throughout the Italian peninsula, but it is rare to find them, let alone in good condition. That story evolved recently when a team of archaeologists in Arles, France, exposed a full mural within a large villa near a parking lot in the Trinquetaille district of the historic city. Experts have compared its quality and size to those preserved in Pompeii.
After being buried for nearly two millennia, fragments of the mural were photographed and released by the Museum of Ancient Arles. A beautiful example is shown here, displaying a dressed female plucking the strings of a harp. She contrasts with the sharp vermilion-red background, which has retained its vibrancy. Also noticeable are the blue and purple hues in the woman’s blouse — expensive pigments for the period. Other images released show the painted capitals of ornate Corinthian columns — a popular practice in Roman mural painting.
Equally as exciting is the fact that a villa nearby remains unexcavated, leaving archaeologists eagerly wondering what treasures remain there. A new dig is scheduled for 2016.
To learn more, visit The Telegraph.
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