The researchers uncovered the largest Roman mosaic discovered in London in over 50 years, near the Shard building. Experts from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) have unveiled two decorated panels set that date back to the late second or early third century AD. The panels are believed to have once been a part of a formal dining room – or triclinium, which was common for Roman buildings of the time.
The larger section of the mosaic measures 5m x 3.5m and depicts large, colourful flowers surrounded by bands of intertwining strands.
This kind of motif is known as a guilloche.
The smaller of the panels was 1m x 1.5m and featured a simpler design.
It depicted two examples of a pattern known as Solomon’s knot, which is two stylized flowers and geometric motifs in red, white and black.
Dr David Neal, a former archaeologist with English Heritage and leading expert in Roman mosaics, believes that this design was made by the “Acanthus group” – a team of mosaic artisans who worked in London and developed their own distinctive local style.
Researchers have previously found an almost exact parallel in Trier, Germany, implying that the same mosaicists were likely at work in both places.
Archaeologists believe that the dining room may have been part of a Roman mansio, which were high end “motels” of the time.
These accommodations provided rooms, stabling, and dining for couriers and officials travelling to and from Roman Londinium.