In an underwater excavation, archaeologists found a rare engraved Roman gemstone in the village Lio Piccolo, just north of Venice, Italy, Italy 24 Press News reported last week.
The cut agate gem is engraved with a mythological figure and is being considered an unusual artifact, particularly in an underwater environment. The quality of the jewelry indicates that wealthy Romans might have visited the area.
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“In a lagoon environment it is a rather rare find, to date we have news of two other precious gems found in Torcello and at Barena del Vigno,” said Carlo Beltrame, who led the excavation alongside Elisa Costa, from the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, in a statement.
Just like present-day Italians, ancient Romans used Lio Piccolo for fishing.
A structure with a brick base and oak walls, dating back to the 1st and 2nd century CE, sits 11 feet below the water’s surface. Initially, researchers believed it was used for the conservation and farming of oysters, but they later determined that it served as a holding tank for oysters ahead of consumption.
“Alongside this system there is a brick paving laid on poles, many fragments of valuable frescoes and some fragments of black and white mosaic which, in the 1980s, prompted the discoverer of this site, the amateur archaeologist Ernesto Canal, to interpret it as a prestigious villa,” Beltrame said. “The basin and the floor plans offer a precious marker, because they are well dated, for the study of the variations of the sea and of the local subsidence.”