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Move over internet: ancient skeletons discovered YOLO way before you did

Asad Ali | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

Much before Dead Poet's Society made carpe diem a cool life credo, almost 2400 years ago in fact, there were strong believers in the YOLO philosophy.

With a sense of humour.

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A mosaic tile excavated in the Hatay province on the Turkish-Syrian border shows what's described as "a reckless skeleton" lying on the floor with a wine bowl and a loaf of bread. It has Ancient Greek text alongside it that translates to: "Be cheerful, enjoy your life."

However, this isn't the only mosaic to endorse an urgency to let your hair down or take it easy in life. Two other such mosaics were also discovered side by side which, going by the researchers' claims at the Hatay Archaeology Museum, must have featured in the dining area of an upper class home around 3rd century BC.

The other two mosaics indicate an aspect of life that, archaeologists say, the Roman elite took quite seriously - bath and dinner.

Photo: Leemage/ UIG via Getty Images

Demet Kara, an archaeologist from the Hatay Archaeology Museum who was part of the excavation process, explained to Hurriyet Daily News, "There are three scenes on glass mosaics made of black tiles. Two things are very important among the elite class in the Roman period in terms of social activities: the first is the bath and the second is dinner.

In the first scene, a black person throws fire. That symbolises the bath. In the middle scene, there is a sundial and a young clothed man running towards it with a bare-headed butler behind. The sundial rests between 9 pm and 10 pm. In the roman period, 9 pm is bath time. He has to arrive at supper at 10 pm. Unless he can, it is not well-received. There is writing on the scene that reads he is late for supper and writing about time on the other."

Photo: DEA/ A. DAGLI ORTI/ De Agostini/ Getty Images

She also shared that the mosaic is from the ancient Greco-Roman city of Antioch, near Antakya. The city of Antioch also happens to be the first place where the followers of Jesus Christ were referred to as Christians.

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Kara also added that "There is a similar mosaic in Italy but this one is much more comprehensive."

The Italian mosaics are equally quirky though. A similar mosaic discovered in Pompeii, Italy showed a skeleton holding two pitchers. The contents of the pitchers? Anyone's guess. The skeleton does look happy, though, which is all the hint we need. Another, also found in an ancient Pompeiian villa, has a skeleton leaning against a scythe exhorting everyone to "know they self"!

It's clear that everything we think the modern age invented predates us way more than we imagine. That only shows it's good advice: it sure has stood the test of time.

Edited by Payal Puri

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First published: 30 April 2016, 9:04 IST
Asad Ali @asadali1989

Asad Ali is another cattle class journalist trying to cover Current affairs and Culture when he isn't busy not saving the world.