More than 1,600-year-old Roman mosaic found in former Syrian rebel stronghold | World

Archaeologists in Syria on Wednesday discovered a large intact mosaic from the Roman era and say it is the most important archaeological find since conflict began in the region 11 years ago.

The mosaic, measuring 120 square meters (about 1300 square meters), was found in the city of Rastan, in an old building that the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums of Syria was excavating.

Humam Saad, director of Syria’s government agency for archaeological research, said the mosaic shows female Amazon warriors from Roman mythology.

“The scene depicted is rich in detail,” Saad told the Associated Press. “This includes the clothes they wore, their weapons, the horses they were riding, faces, masks and armor.”

In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, the demigod Hercules killed Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, in one of his 12 labors. The mosaic also depicts Neptune, the ancient Roman god of the sea, and 40 of his lovers.

“We can’t identify the type of building, whether it was a public toilet or something else, because we haven’t finished the excavation yet,” Saad said.

Lebanese and Syrian businessmen from the Nabu Museum in Libya bought the property dating back to the 4th century and donated it to the Syrian state.

Sulaf Fawakherji, a famous actress in Syria and a member of the Nabu Museum’s board of trustees, said she hopes to be able to buy other buildings in Rastan, which she says are filled with heritage and artifacts waiting to be discovered.

Rastan was once a major opposition stronghold and a point of intense fighting, before the Syrian government reclaimed the city in 2018.

Syrian heritage has been looted and destroyed during the last decade of violent conflicts in the country. Among the most notable incidents is the Islamic State’s destruction of the city of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site that features Roman-era columns and artifacts that are more than 2,000 years old.

See below for more mosaic images:

Photo shows detail of huge Roman-era mosaic that was discovered in Rastan, Syria — Photo: Louai Beshara/AFP

Photo shows detail of huge Roman-era mosaic that was discovered in Rastan, Syria — Photo: Omar Sanadiki/AP

Huge Roman-era mosaic discovered in Rastan, Syria – Photo: Louai Beshara/AFP

Huge Roman-era mosaic discovered in Rastan, Syria – Photo: Louai Beshara/AFP

People look at huge Roman-era mosaic that was discovered in Rastan, Syria — Photo: Omar Sanadiki/AP

Huge Roman-era mosaic discovered in Rastan, Syria – Photo: Louai Beshara/AFP

Huge Roman-era mosaic discovered in Rastan, Syria – Photo: Louai Beshara/AFP

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