Cypriot archaeologists unveil fourth century artefact

Nicosia: Cypriot archaeologists unveiled a fourth century mosaic depicting a chariot race, an Antiquities Department official said on Friday. The mosaic is unique among hundreds of ancient mosaics worldwide as the one in Cyprus depicts a chariot race and an event at the hippodrome and it was found in an unusual area, Xinhua news agency quoted Fryni Hadichristofi, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation, as saying. "There are only seven chariot race mosaics in the world and most archaeological sites in Cyprus are to be found along or near the coasts where ancient cities and towns were built to take advantage of sea trade," she said. The mosaic was found at Akaki, a village 30 km west of capital Nicosia. It was actually discovered in 1938 by a farmer tilling his field, but was marked for later excavation because of other pressing work. She said indications led to the conclusion that the mosaic covered the floor of a house arcade belonging probably to a wealthy man of the Roman era of the fourth century. "What makes this mosaic stand out is its ornate detail in striking colours and the presentation of complete scenes of several chariots with four horses each competing in a hippodrome scaled down to 24 metres, but otherwise complete in all its details," Hadjichristofi said. Excavation will continue next year to unveil the entire 24 by four meter mosaic, remove scale and uncover the rooms of the building in a bid to collect more information about the way of life at the time. "Many latest discoveries confirm that Cyprus was a rich place," said Hadjichristofi.