Archaeologists in the western Austrian province Tyrol unearthed the remains of a large-scale Roman villa, complete with extensive floor mosaics that may have been also a source for a number of local legends.
The archaeologists from Innsbruck University stumbled upon references to the 1 800-year-old, long since forgotten building situated near the town Lienz in a manuscript penned in Latin, dating back to the mid-18th century. Tyrolean proto-archaeologist Anton Roschmann wrote that he found Roman remains in 1746, but his findings were lost, the Austrian Press Agency reported.
During a dig in October the remains of five rooms of a building dating back to Roman times wear unearthed on a 300-square-metre plot. The remains of the walls show colourful wall paintings, the archaeologists said, but the most astounding find were large-scale floor mosaics in three of the rooms.
The mosaics were unique in the region regarding their dimensions and state of preservation, the archaeologists said. Furthermore, the villa had been partly equipped with wall and floor heatings.
The heating vaults under the floors remained partly intact. The fact that they had not collapsed as usual added to the good condition of the mosaics.
In the 18th century, the low-ceilinged vaults were believed to be the home of dwarfs, leading to the creation of local legends about a "dwarf city" in the region.
The alpine region that today represents the Austrian province Tyrol was conquered by Rome in 15 BC While it profited from Roman trade, the region was never particularly attractive for Roman settlers.
Aguntum, near Lienz was the most well-known of the Roman towns in Tyrol.