‘It’s exactly like a puzzle’: experts on piecing together Roman fresco find
On the right bank of the Rhône in the Provençal town of Arles, the Roman-built House of the Harpist is being hailed as a remarkable record of ancient architecture and interior decoration.
Now, experts have opened their workshop to reveal their painstaking attempts to piece together the vast jigsaw of magnificent and never before seen frescoes discovered in the property thought to date back more than two millennia.
Since April, specialists have been picking through 800 cases of fragments of wall paintings, some removed from excavated walls of the building, others found in the ruins. The first images are being displayed in a temporary exhibition at an Arles museum, but experts say it will take until at least 2023 to reassemble all the frescoes that cover more than 220 square metres.
The fragments, some barely bigger than a fingernail, have been washed, labelled and placed into the cases to be examined one by one to see where they might fit into a bigger picture. So far, the specialists have spent a total of 1,800 hours picking through the pieces.