Ptolemais (Libye) : Archaeologists Uncover 1,700-year Old Roman Villa With Stunning Mosaics
Images of the gods
The villa with the recovered mosaics was built hundreds of years later around a courtyard in classic Roman peristyle arrangement. Among the loveliest of its mosaics is one depicting a sleeping Dionysus and Ariadne – a daughter of King Minos, who according to legend, would become the god's wife.
Mosaics depicting Dionysus and a sleeping Ariadne discovered in Ptolemais - Miron Bogacki
Another mosaic depicts the Achillean cycle (the collection of epic poems about Achilles' adventures) representing Achilles on the island of Skyros – where his mother, fearful that he would meet his death at Troy, dressed him as a girl to avoid military recruiters.
“Leukaktios” – immortalised on a mosaic inscription discover inside the opulent villa - Miron Bogacki
Two other mosaics in the villa, one in the courtyard and one in the dining room, bear the name "Leukaktios". The name was superimposed on the stonework at a later date, possibly due to ownership change during its centuries of occupation.
The villa walls bore colorful frescos, imitating marble revetments with geometric designs. Several walls are covered with figural paintings, mainly depicting various species of birds.
The end of this elegant house, after centuries of occupation, was probably due to the endless earthquakes plaguing the region. Two in particular, striking in the mid 3rd-century C.E. and in 365 C.E, may have doomed the house: the treasure of silver and bronze coins were found within the destruction layers inside the house.
The city of Ptolemais, however, survived. At least for a while. It would remain the capital of Cyrenaica until the year 428, when it was destroyed by the Vandals, who invaded North Africa too from their Germanic home base. Ptolemais would be rebuilt under Justinian I, the byzantine emperor from 527 to 565. But after the Arab forces razed it again in the 7th century, that would be its end.
Stone sculpture of male figure depicted in armour reminiscent of the Hellenistic linothorax type, worn, i.a., by Alexander the Great - Miron Bogacki