Historic Palermo cemetery finds mosaic with over 1,000 years of life

Enlarge Image A new mosaic, described as “one of the marvels of conservation in archaeological practice”, was uncovered in a medieval graveyard in Palova, Italy. Starius was unearthed during restoration work at the site, but is still preserved despite its thousands of years of use. Pigeon droppings, which are still lodged in the stones, are thought to have been a vital part of the building material. Starius is used in addition to stone to form the lid for a sarcophagus. The mosaic, called Imigenia, was created by monks more than 1,000 years ago, and is now on show in Palova. It is the first fresco to be uncovered in this cemetery in 300 years. Discovered A mosaic of St Andreius has also been found, also 1,000 years old. That exhibit will go on display in Palermo next week. When Strik began excavating at Imigenia in 2015, he realised there was something very special about the structure. “When we lifted the lid, we discovered a crystal, that hasn’t been there for at least 1,000 years. We felt like it was a new era”, says the archaeologist. But he knew he was not alone. Fellow archaeologists led by Andrea Olivetti have been working for the past two years, carefully stripping away the remains of centuries-old stone, and uncovering a new landscape of newly polished stones. A companion work by Palermo city officials includes cleaning away layers of landmines, and halting excavations that could affect the function of the cemetery, the mayor’s office said. The city’s administration says it is aware that the cemetery needs to remain a working place. But according to Alessandra Rivella, Palermo’s city councilor, having all the stone be destroyed would be disastrous. “To convert the chapel into rubble and the tomb of our ancestors into rubble would be a grave injustice”, she says.

Find of the week

A 14th century Jesus statue sold for more than £800,000 (£1,000,000) in London on Saturday, a world record for the sale of religious art. It was bought by an anonymous London museum for £928,000.

First aid

The number of people rescued by emergency services has risen by 75 percent in just three years, according to the BBC. This shows a dramatic increase in the number of health emergencies that are attended, and contrasts with the overall declines in the number of reported incidents. The statistics also show that the numbers of those dying as a result of health emergencies has dropped by 28 percent in the same period.

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