Richly-decorated Roman mosaic uncovered during Swiss building works

George Mills
George Mills - [email protected]
Richly-decorated Roman mosaic uncovered during Swiss building works
A detail of the mosaic. Photo: L. Francey/O. Heubi, Site et Musée romains d’Avenches

Pipe laying works in the Swiss town of Avenches have led to the discovery of a highly detailed Roman mosaic.


The mosaic features a border of yellow stone tiles known as tesserae while the central section shows a 'cantharus' drinking vessel upon which two birds are perched.

Measuring 1.55 metres squared, the mosaic will be cleaned on site before being moved to the Roman Museum in Avenches.

Read also: Ancient Roman fridge discovered near Basel keeps beer cool for months

The floor tiling was found in a little-explored section on the outer edges of the Roman settlement of Aventicum, the canton of Vaud said in a statement.

The amphitheatre of Avenches is still used for concerts today. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Founded around 15BC, Aventicum became the capital of the Roman Switzerland after the conquest of territory previously held by the tribe known as the Helvetii.

Remains of the colony's amphitheatre, which could hold up to 16,000 people, a theatre and the so-called Cigognier, or stork, temple can still be visited today.

The Roman museum is housed in a five-story medieval tower and displays Roman objects from Aventicum.

This bust of emperor Marcus Aurelius was discovered in Avenches. Photo: Swiss Tourism

Perhaps the most famous of those finds is a gold bust the emperor Marcus Aurelius which was found at some point during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Unfortunately, only a copy is on display in the Avenches museum as the original is considered too valuable to be housed there.

Read also: Archaeologists find 7,000-year-old human remains in Swiss city


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