Little did a Turkish farmer know, but for years he had been growing crops above a piece of ancient Roman history. Although covered in dirt at the time, it would later be revealed as a place where, thousands of years earlier, Romans would wash up and relax.

While plowing in 2002, the farmer may have noticed bits of mosaic tiles among the freshly tilled land. Purdue University researchers, according to LiveScience, and others surveyed the site at the time, which is near the ancient city Antiochia ad Cragum founded in the third century. Now, they’ve finally uncovered a large chunk of the mosaic, finding it to be 1,600 square-feet, and accompanied by a pool that would have been a Roman bath.

1,600 Square Foot Mosaic Near Ancient Roman Bath Identified Under Turkish Farmland

The mosaic uncovered thus far represents only 40 percent of the entire expanse. (Photo: University of Nebraska, Lincoln)

1,600 Square Foot Mosaic Near Ancient Roman Bath Identified Under Turkish Farmland

(Photo: University of Nebraska, Lincoln)

Art historian with the University of Nebraska in Lincoln told LiveScience the mosaic was in “pristine” condition and that researchers were surprised by its size when it was all finally uncovered:

“To be honest, I was completely bowled over that the mosaic is that big,” Hoff told LiveScience.

Given the bath’s location in Turkey, Hoff said it shows that the area was more influenced by the Roman empire than previously thought.

1,600 Square Foot Mosaic Near Ancient Roman Bath Identified Under Turkish Farmland

(Photo: University of Nebraska, Lincoln)

1,600 Square Foot Mosaic Near Ancient Roman Bath Identified Under Turkish Farmland

(Photo: University of Nebraska, Lincoln)

“Its large size signals, in no small part, that the outward signs of the empire were very strong in this far-flung area,” Hoff said in a university statement. “We were surprised to have found a mosaic of such size and of such caliber in this region – it’s an area that had usually been off the radar screens of most ancient historians and archaeologists, and suddenly this mosaic comes into view and causes us to change our focus about what we think (the region) was like in antiquity.

“We’re beginning to understand now that it was more Romanized, more in line with the rest of the Roman world than was suspected before. (The nature of the mosaic) hammers home how Roman this city truly is.”

Watch the researchers talk about the discovery:

The team began excavation in 2005 and when completely finished — it is only about 40 percent uncovered at this point — will construct a covering over it for protection and public viewings. They have also been uncovering a third-century imperial temple and a street with shops in the area.

Check out the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, website for more photos of the excavation here.

(H/T: Yahoo! News)