Monday, January 27, 2020


A crude tiled floor laid down in geometric patterns, unearthed in a preclassical Hittite town in central Turkey, is the earliest-known mosaic in the world, reports Anacleto D’Agostino of the University of Pisa. Moreover, he adds, the settlement where the mosaic was found may be the lost Hittite city of Zippalanda.

Discovered during the excavation of prehistoric Usakli Hoyuk, the multichromatic patterned surface is in the courtyard of a public building – which archaeologists interpret to be a temple to the Storm God, D’Agostino writes in Antiquity, published by the Cambridge University Press. Made of stones of varying size and shape, the Late Bronze Age floor is also the earliest-known rendition in rock of geometric patterns.

Aerial photo, showing the postulated Storm God temple: the site of the mosaic is highlighted in yellow Usa kl Hyk Archaeologica
All the stones were laid flat, not quite touching one another, and formed geometric patterns in contrasting dark and light colors. The mosaic consists of three rectangular frames, each containing three rows of triangles of different colors, mainly white, light red and blue-black. Two stones are orange-yellow, D’Agostino notes. The mosaic was framed with perpendicularly positioned stones in white, black-blue and white again.

The mosaic and eastern wall of the building interpreted as a Storm God temple do not touch one another but have the same orientation, D’Agostino states: the mosaic’s frame runs precisely parallel to the wall. These two Bronze Age edifices are clearly contemporaneous, he concludes. Also, the building and mosaic are characterized by “high status architecture,” while later remains in the town (from the end of the Bronze and Iron ages) are not, lending to the theory that this town was Zippalanda – and therefore the temple would have been to the Storm God.


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