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11 Feb 2021

The original location of a Roman mosaic depicting the 12 Labours of Hercules was discovered under the streets of Cartama, Malaga, over 150 years after first being mentioned by archaeologists.

The location was discovered after surveys found a part of the mosaic that had not been previously extracted, according to Cartama City Council.

The surveys were initially carried out to ensure that road restoration works in Calle Padre Navedo would not damage any historical relic underneath the city streets.

The Council has announced it will ensure the remains continue to be undamaged, and ensure that the mosaic can be returned to the city.

The history of this particular mosaic dates back to the Roman Empire, like most mosaics and the designs behind manymosaic effect tiles. However, the history of its discovery has a fascinating history.

The first discovery of the tiled mosaic in modern times was in 1858, where a home would have stood in the formerly Roman city of Cartima.

The Marquis of Loring paid for the mosaic to be dug up and be taken to Malaga city, where it would form the basis of Malaga’s first archaeological museum. Much of the design was even based on the Mosaic’s dimensions and resembled a classical Roman temple.

Its original location, La Concepcion Botanical Garden, was eventually bought by the Echevarria-Echevarrieta family at some point in the 20th Century, who took the mosaic itself to be part of a private collection as part of the floor of the family mausoleum in Basque Country, where it remains to this day.

However, that was not the full mosaic, and archaeological writer Manuel Rodriguez de Berlanga mentioned in an article in 1861 that there were remains of the mosaic that were left behind, but remained undiscovered for 160 years. This included a white border decorated with frets.

Cartama has attempted to bring back the original mosaic for many years, and the mayor of the city declared that if historical heritage was preserved and cared for in the first place. As they are in a private collection, it is uncertain what can be done to return the mosaic to its rightful home.

There have been several mosaics that have been recently rediscovered, with the most notable being the incredibly beautiful mosaic floor found under a vineyard in Verona, Italy.

What has been so notable about these discoveries is how well they have survived despite being underground in conditions that would not ostensibly appear to help them succeed.

Despite being in a vineyard or under a road, the mosaic has survived remarkably unscathed, which highlights the incredible toughness and long-lasting robustness of ceramic.

The mosaic was originally placed on a base of limestone and ground-up pottery before a white and blue border was placed along with the mosaic itself.

The current plans for the archaeological discovery is to ensure they are protected from and are unaffected by renovation works that have been planned on the street in the upcoming months.