Treasure trove of ancient Roman statues unearthed in Tuscany

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected] • 8 Nov, 2022 Updated Tue 8 Nov 2022 11:46 CEST
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A trove of bronze statues discovered in Tuscany have been compared to the 'Riace bronzes', pictured here. Photo by Gianluca CHININEA / AFP.

24 bronze statues dating back over two millennia have been discovered in the Tuscan province of Siena, Italian media reported on Tuesday.


The artefacts, estimated to be 2,300 years old, were reportedly in a near perfect state of preservation due to having been buried in a mixture of mud and thermo-mineral spring water typical to the area.

Along with the statues, more than five thousand gold, silver and bronze coins were uncovered, according to national broadcaster Rai.

Many of the artefacts were reportedly accompanied by inscriptions in Etruscan and Latin.

Excavation works at the Etruscan-Roman shrine in the township of San Casciano dei Bagni where the objects were discovered had been ongoing since 2019.


Archaeologist Jacopo Tabolli, who led the dig with a grant from Italy's Ministry of Culture and funding from the town's council, told the Ansa news agency that the find was "absolutely unique".

"It's a discovery that will rewrite history and one which more than 60 experts from all over the world are already working on," Tabolli, who works as a professor at Siena's University for Foreigners, added.


Among the votive objects retrieved from the sacred site were a statue of Apollo, as well as Hygieia, the goddess of health, with a snake coiled around her arm, and various other divinities and emperors, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The discovery has been compared to that of the 'Riace bronzes' - two life size Greek bronze statues that were found just off the shore in the Calabrian seaside town of Riace in 1972.

Massimo Osanna, head of Museums at Italy's Ministry of Culture, said the latest find was "the most important discovery since the Bronze Statues of Riace and certainly one of the most significant bronze finds ever made in the history of the ancient Mediterranean." 

It's believed that the site where the objects were found was an active place of worship between the third century BC and the fifth century BC, but was later closed in Christian times.

Instead of being destroyed, however, the temple is thought to have been sealed and the votive statues buried - which is why they were discovered in such an intact state.

The discovery also sheds new light on the interaction between Etruscan and Roman societies, showing that the Etruscan language survived for longer than had been believed.

"Even in historical epochs in which the most awful conflicts were raging outside, inside these pools and on these altars the two worlds, the Etruscan and Roman ones, appear to have co-existed without problems," Tabolli said.





The Local Italy 2022/11/08 11:46

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