Visitors to southern Turkey will soon be able to see a huge intact mosaic some 1,300 years old being unveiled after nine years of hard archaeological work. It has been dubbed the world's largest one-piece mosaic.
"The mosaic will be exhibited in its original place and be open to visitors very soon," Nalan Çopuroğlu Yastı, director of the Hatay Archaeology Museum, told Anadolu Agency.
The sixth-century stone mosaic, spanning some 1,200 square meters and made up of geometric shapes and non-repeating figures, was probably used as a public space in its time, she said.
"The stone is distinctive due to its curved, rug-like surface, and the artifact grew curved as a result of earthquakes in 526 and 528 AD," said Yastı.
Despite the quakes, however, the mosaic never broke, and made it to the present day intact and unbroken.
Once the mosaic stone was discovered during the construction of a hotel, archaeologists worked with great care to unearth it. Unearthing the piece took nine years of hard work, and other historical artifacts were brought out during the excavation, Yastı said.
Yastı said the massive mosaic proved that the mosaics of Antakya -- ancient Antioch, in the Hatay province -- are the finest historical artifacts not only in Turkey, but in the entire world.
Turkey is home to a rich trove of ancient mosaics that once adorned the walls and floors of palaces and houses of nobles of ancient civilizations. Hatay is a neighbor of Gaziantep, a province which hosts the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, one of the largest mosaic museums in the world. The 30,000-square meter museum in Gaziantep is named after an ancient city's mosaic whose missing piece known as the "Gypsy Girl" was retrieved from the United States last year. In January, a set of ancient mosaics, believed to date back to the first century, were discovered in Osmaniye, a province north of Hatay, again, during the excavation work for a construction site.