Home Interior Design Museum workers stumbled across 2,000 missing fragments of a Roman wall painting while restoring an ancient theater

Museum workers stumbled across 2,000 missing fragments of a Roman wall painting while restoring an ancient theater

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Archaeologists have discovered 2,000 fragments of an ancient Roman fresco in the city of Cartagena, on the southeast coast of Spain. Researchers say finds inside an ancient theater are among the best-preserved wall paintings from the Roman Empire.

The theater had been built in the ancient city between 5 and 1 BCE and contained enough space for an audience of up to 7,000 people to watch ceremonies and performances.

Today, the theatre, excavated in 1988, has been restored to its former glory and since 2008 has housed an open-air museum. It turned out, however, that the site was still hiding some secrets that have only just been unearthed.

The fragments were discovered by chance during restoration work on the theater portico towards the back of the stage, which originally surrounded a central garden. Archaeologists have started excavating and documenting the wall since January.

The pieces will join 1,500 other fragments discovered in 2006, and historians hope to reconstruct the original composition and restore the mural. Although the details are hard to make out at this time, there appear to be three main pictorial groups and researchers have detected human figures as well as linear design features.

Encouraged by this discovery, archaeologists plan to continue excavations in a garden that once stood behind the scene. If they are lucky, they hope to detect specific plant species there and even recover the remains of old pipes that would have once allowed water to flow through the fountains and maintain the landscaped park.

The city of Cartagena was conquered by the Roman general Scipio Africanus in 209 BC. AD, who named it Carthago Nova (meaning “New New City”), the capital of the province of Hispania Carthaginensis. During the reign of Julius Caesar, the city received Latin rights and it was an important tributary community of the Roman Empire.

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