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Pompey to display replica of Alexander's battle mosaic

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ROME, Sept 30 (AFP) - The ancient Roman site of Pompei next Thursday will put on display its celebrated mosaic of Alexander the Great's battle, not the original discovered in 1831 but a copy made using the methods of antiquity, the archeological site in southern Italy said Friday.

Alexander's battle, considered one of the most famous Roman mosaics, was found in 1931 in the House of the Fawn in Pompei and since 1834 has been in the National Archeological Museum in Naples.

The work, which measures 5.84 meters (19.2 feet) by 3.17 meters (10.4 feet), was first damaged by an earthquake that hit the city of Pompei in 63 AD, followed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 69 AD, that buried the city, whose ruins were excavated centuries later and are now visited by millions each year.

The mosaic shows a scene of combat in action, with helmeted soldiers on horseback and armed with spears, while others rode in horse-drawn chariots, in a scorched-earth battlefield.

Experts still debate when the mosaic was made and what battle it depicts. Most of them believe it shows Alexander the Great fighting Darius III, the king of Persia, around 331 BC.

Some three million tiles and one year of labor went into creating the mosaic replica, a "perfect clone", which will be displayed in a house in the heart of Pompei, according to archeological officials.

"Our intention is to give visitors an idea of how the original was used as decoration in the buildings of antiquity," the management of the Pompei ruins said, adding that the use of ancient techniques will also add to the sense of how the artwork was back in the first century.



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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