“Exclusive” Collection of 24 Ancient Statues Immersed in a Tuscan Spa |  Italy

“Exclusive” Collection of 24 Ancient Statues Immersed in a Tuscan Spa | Italy

“Exclusive” Collection of 24 Ancient Statues Immersed in a Tuscan Spa | Italy

An “exceptional” cache of bronze statues has been found in a network of Etruscan baths in Tuscany, preserved for thousands of years by mud and boiling water.

The 24 partially submerged statues, dating back 2,300 years and hailed as the most important find of their kind in 50 years, include a sleeping ephebe reclining next to Hygeia, the goddess of health, with a snake wrapped around her arm.

Archaeologists came across the statues while excavating an ancient spa in San Casciano de’ Bagni, near Siena. The modern spa, which contains 42 hot springs, is close to the ancient site and is one of the most famous spas in Italy.

“Exclusive” Collection of 24 Ancient Statues Immersed in a Tuscan Spa |  Italy
The ancient Etruscan spa was developed by the Romans and visited by emperors including Augustus. Photo: Jacopo Tabolli / University of Siena Foreigners / EPA

Near the ephebe (an adolescent male, usually 17-18 years old) and Hygeia were statues of Apollo and a number of other statues representing matrons, children and emperors.

It is believed that they were built by the Etruscans BC. in the third century, the baths, which included fountains and altars, became more luxurious during the Roman period, when emperors, including Augustus, frequented the springs for their health and medicinal benefits.

Alongside 24 bronze statues, five of which are nearly a meter tall, archaeologists have discovered thousands of coins, as well as Etruscan and Latin inscriptions. Visitors are said to have thrown coins into the baths as a gesture of good luck for their health.

Massimo Osanna, director general of museums at Italy’s culture ministry, said the relics were the most significant discovery of their kind since two full-size Greek bronzes of bare-bearded warriors were found off the coast of Calabria in 1972. certainly one of the most significant bronze discoveries in the history of the ancient Mediterranean,” Osanna told Italian news agency Ansa.

Partially submerged remains of the old structure, the base of the column is visible.
The ancient spa was active until the fifth century, when the pools were sealed with heavy stone pillars, which archaeologists removed. Photo: Jacopo Tabolli / University of Siena Foreigners / EPA

The San Casciano dei Bagni excavation project has been led by archaeologist Jacopo Tabolli since 2019. In August, several artifacts, including fertility statues believed to have been used as offerings to the gods, were found at the site. Professor Tabolli of Siena’s Foreign University described the latest discovery as “absolutely unique”.

The Etruscan civilization flourished in Italy, mainly in the central regions of Tuscany and Umbria, for 500 years before the arrival of the Roman Republic. The Etruscans had a great influence on Roman cultural and artistic traditions.

A preliminary analysis of 24 statues believed to have been made by local artisans in the B.C. in the second and first centuries, as well as numerous donations found at the site, indicate that the relics probably originally belonged to elite Etruscan and Roman landowner families. local lords and Roman emperors.

Two archaeologists holding a statue of a boy.
The discovery of the well-preserved statues has been hailed as the most important of its kind in 50 years. Photo: Jacopo Tabolli / University of Siena Foreigners / EPA

Tabolli told Ansa that the hot springs, rich in minerals including calcium and magnesium, remained active until the fifth century before being closed but not destroyed in Christian times. The pools were sealed with heavy stone pillars and the divine statues remained in the holy water.

The treasure was discovered after archaeologists removed the cover. “It is the largest cache of statues in ancient Italy and the only one whose context we can completely reconstruct,” Tabolli said.

Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy’s recently appointed culture minister, said the “exceptional discovery” confirms once again that “Italy is a country full of vast and unique treasures.”

The relics provide important evidence of the transition from the Etruscan and Roman periods, where the baths were considered a haven of peace.

“Even in the historical eras when the most terrible conflicts raged outside, inside these pools and on these altars, the two worlds, the Etruscan and the Roman, seemed to coexist without problems,” Tabolli said.

Excavations at the ancient site will resume in the spring of next year, and the winter period will be used for the recovery of relics and further studies.

The artifacts will be housed in a 16th-century building recently purchased by the Ministry of Culture in San Cacciano, near Florence. The area of ​​the ancient baths will also be turned into an archaeological park.

“All of this will be added and harmonized and can be a further opportunity for the spiritual growth of our culture as well as the cultural industry of our country,” Sangiuliano said.



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