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Roman Mosaic Excavated in Britain Changes Understanding of Dark Ages

The unearthing of a Roman mosaic in Britain has left the archaeologists wondering about the true nature of the Dark Ages.

The mosaic in question was first discovered at the Chedworth Roman villa in the town of Gloucestershire in England in 2017. The discovery of the floor led to extensive radiocarbon dating, a process of measuring carbon content to determine the age of any object. After more than 3 years, the process has finally completed. The National Trust, a British conservation charity, announced on Thursday that the mosaic is from the 5th century.

The announcement has startled many. According to the common belief among historians, the Roman rule in Britain ended by the end of the 4th century. In the 5th century, Britain was already in decline, a period known as the Dark Ages. This period was characterised by the decay of culture, abandoning of towns and economic downturn throughout Western Europe. After the end of the Roman rule, the centralized administration in Britain broke down into smaller fiefdoms. The majority of the population turned towards agriculture to sustain themselves.

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However, the mosaic at Chedworth seems to challenge that notion. The beautiful mosaic floor is a clear sign of culture and wealth – two things that were supposedly lacking in the time period it belongs. Thus, the Roman mosaic suggests that perhaps the turn towards Dark ages was not so sudden as was previously believed. It was either gradual or not so ‘dark’ as scholars currently believe.

A team is now tasked to perform a six-year-long archaeological project at the Chedworth Roman Villa to explore more. The team will also explore neighbouring villas to look for more such mosaics.