– A gigantic Homeric mosaic arises from English soil
It was discovered by the son of a farm owner. Of late, this work illustrates the persistence of classical culture at the end of the empire.
The illustrated scene is taken from Homer’s “The Iliad”. Somewhere there are Achilles and Hector. Their bodies were made of thousands of desserts. We have a huge mosaic presence. Seven eleven meters is no small feat. The work, which dates from the late 3rd to the early 4th century, has just been published in Rutland County, located in the middle of the British Midlands. According to John Thomas of the University of Leicester, this was one of the most moving inventions made on English soil (or below) in a century. “The villa where the work is located illustrates the traditional culture that was maintained among some of the richest and most cultivated people on the island at that time.” The final phase is not going to be long to come. Rarely captured, the island of Brittany is preserved from the present-day Scots by the Hadrian’s Wall (the bulk of which remains), with only one thread in the Roman world.
“By zooming in on satellite images, I saw a kind of white vacuum as if someone had put a plaster behind my computer screen.”
Jim Irwin Neiler, who invented the mosaic
But maybe we should start early. We are on a large farm owned by Brian Nailer. His son, Jim Irwin, had previously discovered pieces of ancient pottery in plowed fields. The latter fell on a piece of mosaic in 2020. Curious, he began to stare at satellite images. “I magnified a kind of white void, as if someone had put a plaster behind my computer screen.” There must be something hard beneath the loose earth. Jim Irwin immediately informed the archaeologists. They have received emergency funding. This allowed a small group to be sent to the site by 2020. That’s when the mosaic came to light. This year, other archaeologists intervened. They are teachers and students of the School of Archeology at the University of Leicester, so they can carry out practical exercises.
Unfortunately the mosaic is not in good condition. Damaged over time by various construction works. It also bears traces of fire. All of these should definitely be explored. But we must not forget that such work was part of an important campus, and it should be explored almost completely. In a few more years we will know, the occupation of the site seems to be long overdue. New excavations for 2022 have already been announced. Undoubtedly in another form, there was a late reuse of the site in the Middle Ages. As for the mosaic, archaeologists are now expecting funding from the Lottery Heritage Fund, as Mau Kennedy explains in his “The Art Newspaper” article. This will allow for a restoration and then an exhibition. The case to be continued …
Born in 1948, Etienne Dumont The courses he studied in Geneva were of little use to him. Latin, Greek, law. A failed lawyer, he branched out into the field of journalism. Mostly in the cultural sector, he worked from March 1974 to May 2013, starting with talking about cinema in “Tribune de Geneva”. Then came fine arts and books. Other than that, as you can see, there is nothing to report.