It's believed to be the largest mosaic of its type ever discovered, and it may redefine history as we know it.
LivesScience reports that a team of students and researchers headed by Michael Hoff of the University of Nebraska recently uncovered a remarkable poolside mosaic that dates back to the 3rd or 4th century (A.D.).
"This is a gorgeous mosaic, and the size of it is unprecedented," Hoff told Science20. He added that the mosaic wrapped around a marble-line, 25-foot-long outdoor pool.
Hidden under a farmer's field in the city of Antiochia ad Cragum in southern Turkey, the mosaic is in surprisingly near-pristine condition, covering 1,600 square feet with square panels depicting different geometric designs.
"This region is not well understood in terms of history and archaeology," Hoff said in a video for LiveScience. "We are beginning to understand that it was perhaps more Romanized, more in line with the rest of the Roman world than had been suspected before."
"It does cause us to change our focus about what we think [this area] was like in antiquity," he added.
The mosaic is a quintessential example of Roman Empire design, and according to Hoff, that is the most exciting aspect of the discovery.
"The mosaic really emphasizes the pure Roman nature of this city and should answer a lot of questions regarding the interaction between the indigenous locals and the Roman Empire," he told Sci-News.
According to LiveScience, the first inklings of the discovery began in 2002 when Purdue professor Nick Rauh was walking through a recently plowed field, and noticed the plow had churned up some pieces of the tile. At the time, there wasn't enough money available at local museums to begin the project, but with a recent grant Hoff's team was invited down to excavate.
So far the team has uncovered only 50 percent of the find, but they expect to brush off the other side to reveal a mirror design of what they've unearthed already. The group expects to be done by next summer, Science20 reports.