Italian archaeologists unearth 24 bronze statues from ancient Rome ‘that could rewrite history’

One of the statues (AP)

One of the statues (AP)

More than two dozen bronze statues dating from Roman antiquity have been discovered in the thermal baths of Tuscany.

The statues were discovered in San Casciano dei Bagni, a hilltop town in the province of Siena, about 100 miles north of Rome, where archaeologists have been exploring the muddy ruins of an ancient bathhouse since 2019.

Jacopo Tabolli, assistant professor at the University for Foreigners of Siena, said: “This is a very important and exceptional finding.”

He added: “This possibility of rewriting the relationship and the dialectic between the Etruscans and the Romans is an exceptional opportunity.”

Massimo Osanna, a senior Culture Ministry official, called it one of the most remarkable finds “in the history of the ancient Mediterranean”.

Tabolli said the statues, representing Hygieia, Apollo and other Greco-Roman deities, adorned a sanctuary before being immersed in thermal waters, in some kind of ritual, “probably around the 1st century AD”.

Archaeologists work at the site of the find (AP)

Archaeologists work at the site of the find (AP)

“You give to the water because you hope the water will give you something back,” he said of the ritual.

Most of the statues date from between the 2nd century BC. and the 1st century AD, a period of “great transformation in ancient Tuscany” as it moved from Etruscan to Roman rule, the Culture Ministry said in a statement.

It was an “era of great conflict” and “cultural osmosis”, in which the sanctuary of the Great Bath of San Casciano represented a “unique multicultural and multilingual haven of peace, surrounded by political instability and war”, has said the ministry.

The statues were covered in nearly 6,000 pieces of bronze, silver and gold, and the warm, muddy waters of San Casciano helped preserve them “almost like the day they were submerged,” Tabolli said. .

The excavation site (AP)

The excavation site (AP)

The archaeologist said his team had recovered 24 large statues, as well as several smaller statuettes, and noted that it was unusual that they were made of bronze rather than terracotta.

Tabolli said this suggested they came from what he called an elite settlement, where archaeologists also found “wonderful Etruscan and Latin inscriptions” mentioning the names of powerful local families, added Ministry press release.

According to Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, the “exceptional discovery … once again confirms that Italy is a country of immense and unique treasures”.

The ministry said the statues had been taken to a restoration laboratory in nearby Grosseto, but would eventually be displayed in a new museum in San Casciano.

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