Roman fresco unearthed in London
|A section of a decorative fresco, dating to the 1st-century AD |
Roman Britain [Credit: (c) MOLA]
Thanks to a huge Roman construction project, the fate of this rare wall painting was literally sealed in the ground. In AD 100, construction of the 2nd Forum Basilica, the main civic centre for the city and the largest Roman building ever built north of the Alps, began. In advance of construction of the Forum the area was flattened. The painted wall was deliberately toppled and the Forum immediately built over it, incredibly preserving the fresco for nearly 2000 years.
|The Roman fresco is more than 2m wide and 1.5 metres high |
[Credit: (c) MOLA]
Each section was supported, undercut and block lifted so that soil encased and protected the plaster. Back in the lab the conservators worked quickly to micro-excavate the soil whilst it was still damp, to expose the millimetre-thin painted surface beneath.
|Conservators from MOLA removing a section of the 1st century |
upturned Roman wall plaster [Credit: (c) MOLA]
The central section, on a background of green and black vertical panels, depicts deer nibbling trees, alongside birds, fruit and a vine woven around a candelabrum. Red panels, bordered with cream lines, surround the main decorative scheme.
|Tiles that sat below the London's Roman Forum |
in the 2nd-century [Credit: (c) MOLA]
Fascinatingly, a slight error in the design reveals that the craftsman who painted the fresco made a mistake. It suggests that there was more than one person painting the wall and that they may have been working to a pre-prepared template. The mistake could only have been corrected by repainting the whole middle panel.
|MOLA archaeological conservator, Luisa Duarte, a section |
of decorated Roman wall [Credit: (c) MOLA]
Specialists from MOLA continue to study the fresco and archaeological records from the dig and hope to build a picture of what the area looked like in the Roman period and how it developed over almost 2,000 years of London’s history.
Source: MOLA [February 03, 2016]