Sightseers will have to wait until autumn 2018 to enjoy the impressive chariot race mosaic recently discovered at Akaki as it has been covered up until excavations are complete and a suitable display area is created.
Archaeologist Fryni Hadjichristofi says it is usual practice for ancient mosaics to be preserved under a specific kind of sand until they are full excavated, conserved and displayed in a suitable setting.
She said the excavations could take several years. The earliest time members of the public can now expect to see the mosaic is in August 2018 and even as late as November that year when it will be displayed for a limited time only as part of an international mosaic convention taking place in Cyprus.
According to Phileleftheros, conference organisers were shown photos of the mosaic and that this played an instrumental role in their decision to hold the event in Cyprus.
The paper also reported that the mosaic was first uncovered in modern times in 1938 when a farmer spotted it while tilling his fields.
The area had long been connected to saint Ayios Artemonas who came the Avlonas area of Cyprus and baptised a large number of people. A connection to the saint was initially made because a flask that people at the time linked to one Ayios Artemonas may have used to perform the christenings can be seen in depicted in the mosaic.
It was not until 2013 and after persistent prompting by the Bishop of Morphou that excavations began when archaeologists expected to find the remains of a building linked to Christianity at the location, which is in the Buffer Zone near Deneia. Excavations are being carried out with the UN’s approval and soldiers are on guard in the area contributing to the protection of the mosaics.
Instead a water tank, thought to have been used as a swimming pool in ancient times, and the mosaics were found.
“It was a huge surprise for us to find such an impressive mosaic this year, particularly inland and so close to the surface,” Hadjichristofi told the paper, adding: “As soon as I saw the horses’ legs I knew what to expect and I began jumping for joy”.
The international media, including National Geographic and CNN, have shown great interest in the mosaic which is rare due to its high quality and also the position in which it was found. It is are also the only to have been discovered in Cyprus so far that has a charity race as its theme.
A Cyprus News Agency video of the uncovered mosaic, in Greek, and previously shown on this website can viewed below: