Rome, Nov 8 (EFE).- Archeologists in central Italy have found 24 ancient Roman bronze statues in perfect condition during a dig at thermal baths in San Casciano dei Bagni in Siena.
The discovery, which also includes votive offerings and five thousand gold, silver and bronze coins, is being touted as one of the most significant ancient historical findings ever.
“It is a discovery that will rewrite history and on which more than 60 experts from all over the world are already working,” Etruscan expert and coordinator of the dig, Jacopo Tabolli, said.
The excavation has been underway since 2019 and has become the largest deposit of bronze statues from the Etruscan and Roman period ever discovered in Italy and one of the most important in the entire Mediterranean.
The new discovery “is the most important find since the Riace Bronzes were rescued from the sea, the most significant bronze statues ever found in the history of the ancient Mediterranean,” Italy’s director general of Museums, Massimo Osanna, said in a statement.
The statues recovered from the mud of the ancient baths represent venerated deities, including effigies of Hygieia and Apollo.
Researchers say that the “exceptional” state of preservation of the statues inside the hot springs means that inscriptions in Etruscan and Latin that were engraved before their creation have also been preserved.
The inscriptions contain the names of powerful Etruscan families, in addition to the Etruscan phrases. Latin inscriptions have also been discovered, which also mention the “aquae calidae”, the hot springs of Bagno Grande, where the statues were placed.
Probably made by local craftsmen, the 24 statues, Tabolli explains, date from between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD, a period of significant change in ancient Tuscany as the area transitioned from Etruscan to Roman society.
“The sanctuary with its statues appears as a research laboratory on cultural diversity in antiquity, a unique testimony of Etruscan and Roman mobility,” said Tabolli, adding that the discovery “is a unique opportunity to rewrite the history of ancient art and with it the history of the passage between Etruscans and Romans in Tuscany.”
The sanctuary, with its ponds, sloping terraces, fountains, altars, existed at least since the third century BC and remained active until the fifth century AD when, in Christian times, it was closed but not destroyed. EFE