Laid-back ancient skeleton mosaic has sage advice

A skeleton on a 2,400-year-old mosaic found in Turkey advises "Be cheerful, enjoy your life."

Story highlights

  • Unearthed mosaic shows skeleton exhorting people to be cheerful and enjoy life
  • The 2,400-year-old mosaic is unique for Turkey, archaeologist says

(CNN)It's the ancient equivalent of "don't worry, be happy."

Turkish archaeologists have unearthed a 2,400-year-old mosaic that features a laid-back skeleton, reclining with a cup next to a bottle of wine and loaf of bread, surrounded by the wise words: "Be cheerful, enjoy your life," according to Turkey's Anadolu news agency.
    Turkish media said that the image, which dates to the third century B.C., was discovered in 2012 during construction of a cable car in Antakya. The area was further excavated to look for additional artifacts.
    Archaeologist Demet Kara says that the carefree fellow likely appeared in the dining room of a wealthy family's villa in the ancient Greek-Roman city of Antioch, known as an early center of Christianity, and possibly the place where followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians.
    She said that the mosaic was a unique finding for Turkey.
    "There is a similar mosaic in Italy, but this one is much more comprehensive. It is important for the fact that it dates back to the 3rd century (B.C.)," she is quoted as saying in local media.
    Its blissed-out message is a far cry from the "memento mori" -- stark reminders of the transience of life, symbolized by images of skulls and other grim reminders of mortality -- that populated medieval Europe.
    Rather, it seems to echo the "Cleopatra Ode" of Roman poet Horace, "Nunc est bibendum" -- now is the time for drinking.