07-27-2007 10:22

At the heart of the ancient town of Nimes, in Southern France, routine building work has uncovered a unique and fascinating piece of ancient history. The find dates to the era when the town was a principal city of Roman Gaul. What the excavators discovered were two magnificent Roman mosaics.

The Roman mosaics date from the second century A.D. They were located by the National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research, at a site where work was underway at an underground parking lot.

Jean Yves Breuil, scientific coordinator, said, "There is a first mosaic that is not very well preserved but has an interesting design, with references to Trojan mythology. The second mosaic is frankly exceptional. Because it is very, very well-preserved, the structure of the design is very complex, a mixture of medallions, curves, and the central motif is unique
for a mosaic. It shows a battle between the gods and the giants."

These pieces would have decorated the floor of what must have been one of the grandest houses in the city. And the locations of the mosaics identify their sites as principal reception rooms.

But there's more: the archaeological work has also revealed a courtyard with a decorative basin and a well. Now archaeologists undertake the painstaking work of removing the mosaics
from their original settings.

Thirty five archaeologists have been carrying out a survey of the extensive Roman walls. Slowly they are excavating the remains of the ancient town, already famous for its Roman Amphitheatre. Work began in October 2006.