And They’re Off!


November/December 2016

Trenches Cyprus Hippodrome Mosaic


Archaeologists at Akaki, about 20 miles from the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, have uncovered a rare mosaic depicting a horse-racing venue known as a hippodrome. The work, one of fewer than 10 extant ancient mosaics on the subject in the world, was likely part of a lavish villa from the fourth century A.D., when the Romans controlled Cyprus. The villa site so far measures more than 36 feet long and 13 feet wide, though it may well be much larger. Although horse races were some of the most important spectacles staged by the emperor, they are an especially unusual artistic subject in the eastern Mediterranean. Notably, above each four-wheeled chariot are inscribed two names, which Cyprus Department of Antiquities archaeologist Fryni Hadjichristofi believes belong to the charioteer and one of the horses.