Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said the meticulously crafted, 1,600-square-feet of decorative handiwork is believed to be the largest mosaic of its type in the region.
It demonstrates the surprising reach and cultural influence of the Roman Empire in the area during the third and fourth centuries A.D., art history Professor Michael Hoff said.
"Its size signals, in no small part, that the outward signs of the empire were very strong in this far-flung area," he said in a university release Tuesday.
"We were surprised to have found a mosaic of such size and of such caliber in this region -- it's an area that had usually been off the radar screens of most ancient historians and archaeologists, and suddenly this mosaic comes into view and causes us to change our focus about what we think [the region] was like in antiquity."
The mosaic was discovered in the remains of the ancient city of Antiochia ad Cragum on the southern Turkish coast, founded in the middle of the first century.
"We're beginning to understand now that [the region] was more Romanized, more in line than the rest of the Roman world than was suspected before," Hoff said.
"[The nature of the mosaic] hammers home how Roman this city truly is."
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