Roman Fresco Found Intact in Britain

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February 14, 2016

U.K. archaeologists have preserved a fragile 2,000-year-old painting found during construction of an office building.

The painting, which features colorful depictions of birds and deer, was likely on a wall of a wealthy homeowner, said the excavators from the Museum of London Archaeology. Finds of such full paintings are rare in London, the archaeologists said, mainly because stone and metal are more naturally apt to survive subsequent generations of construction. The building site, soon to sport a modern office building, is near Leadenhall Market in the central part of the city.

The Romans started the destruction ball rolling about A.D. 100, when they cast a wide net of flattening through the area in order to make way for a large forum. Subsequent generations of builders have built right on top, as well. It was the initial flattening, however, that preserved the work, archaeologists said.

The recovered painting measures 8 feet across and 5 feet high and is just 1 millimeter thick. Red side panels form a backdrop for black and green central panels that feature birds and fruit sitting atop candelabra and deer nibbling at trees.

Archaeologists also said that one of the pigments used in creating the freso came, at the time, only from Spain and that this was another bit of evidence to support the idea that the owner of the home was wealthy.

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