A massive 1,600-year-old Roman villa measuring over 20,000 square feet and including a 60 foot long intact mosaic has been discovered in southern Spain.
Experts believe that the villa probably belonged to a rich local family that owned numerous farms in the area.
The excavations took place at the archeologic site of El Altillo, located in the municipality of Rus, in the southern Spanish province of Jaen, in the Andalusia region, after a few remains from the mosaic were unearthed.
“The mosaic was of very good technical quality and that its creators had used excellent materials,” said Pena.
The geometrical motifs were a common theme in Roman times, and he is hopeful that there may be more mosaics waiting to be discovered in the area.
The dig is far from complete, with many parts of the villa yet to be unearthed, but their existence has been confirmed using geological radar equipment.
Among the remains found at the site, there is a large residential building with a massive mosaic with geometric motifs. The huge mosaic measures 9 meters wide and 18 meters long (30 feet wide and 60 feet long) and is believed to be one of the largest ever discovered in the region.
The archeologists have also found the remains of various production facilities at the villa, such as a place where pottery and tiles were produced and an olive press where olive oil was made.
The whole villa is around 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet) and would have included several hectares of farmland.
Pena speculated that the villa might have belonged to a wealthy farming family who had “enough investment capacity to afford luxury items like the mosaic”.
Pena said that they had dug in the necropolis area and found people buried in graves with what appears to be an elaborate burial ritual, with the corpse orientated east to west, which expert says is an indication of their “Christianisation”.
He explained that the villa was built in the final centuries of the Roman Empire before the appearance of the Visigoths, at a time when Christianity emerged in Roman society “with great strength”.
The mayor of the nearby town of Rus, Manuel Hueso, said in the statement that it is important that the site is declared one of cultural importance.