A mosaic depicting ancient chariot races was fully revealed by archaeologists for the first time on Tuesday at the Piadhia site in Akaki in the Nicosia district in the presence of Transport Minister Marios Demetriades and antiquities officials.
The minster called the mosaic floor a “truly remarkable finding”. The mosaic is 26 metres long and four metres wide.
Previous excavations at the site, led by Archaeological Officer Dr Fryni Hadjichristophi, had revealed part of the mosaic floor.
The find depicts a chariot race at a hippodrome with one standing charioteer drawn by four horses. In total it shows four chariots in the race.
Each one has inscriptions believed to be the name of the charioteer and the name of one of the horses. At three points along the circular arena three cones are depicted, each topped with an egg-shaped item while three columns are topped with a dolphin figure from which water appears to be flowing.
The mosaic also includes one man on horseback and two standing figures, one holding a whip and the other a vessel with water. The mosaic can be dated to the first half of the 4th century AD and is in an impressive state of preservation, according to the antiquities department. It is also of a high quality manufacture with a rich geometric design.
Speaking to journalists, Director of the Department of Antiquities Marina Ieronymidou said: “It is an extremely important finding, because of the technique and because of the theme. It is unique in Cyprus since the presence of this mosaic floor in a remote inland area provides important new information on that period in Cyprus and adds to our knowledge of the use of mosaic floors on the island.”
She said the excavations at the site would continue as there were already signs that there are other important finds to be revealed there.
“We will continue the excavations in a scientific way and we hope that this area will eventually open to the public,” she said.
Ieronymidou said that in the meantime, the area would be well protected and temporary structures would be erected over the floor.
Demetriades spoke of a “truly remarkable find that highlights the enormous ancient heritage that Cyprus has.”