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In north-eastern Italy, Aquileia is an ancient Roman city that was founded as a colony by the Romans c. 180 BC. At the end of the 4th century the city was enumerated as one of the great cities of the world. For more details on the history see [1, 2].

In the Cathedral, which is from the 11th century, several pieces of Roman mosaics may be found. One has a malacological theme [3], although it remains to be guessed if these were modelled after land or marine species (or just an imaginary one). The basket denotes they were for food.
Of the nine original figures, eight are surviving. All are stylised, the snails have two tentacles. Yet they are stylish… Three are dextral snails, one sinistral; of the other shells only, two are dextral and two sinistral. Perhaps the Romans already realised enantiomorphism?


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquileia.
[2] http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/825.
[3] http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aquileia_Basilica_-_Ausgrabungen_Mosaik_11.jpg