In thermal baths in Tuscany, Italian archaeologists have unearthed more than twenty-four flawlessly preserved bronze statues dating back to ancient Roman times, a discovery that experts are heralding as extraordinary.
A discovery that could alter history.
A team of Italian archaeologists recently unearthed 24 well-preserved bronze statues from an ancient Tuscan thermal spring, a discovery that is said to “rewrite history” regarding the 1st and 2nd century B.C. transition from the Etruscan civilization to the Roman Empire.
According to Massimo Osanna, Italy’s director of museums, the discovery in the sacred baths of the San Casciano dei Bagni archaeological dig near Siena is one of the most significant ever in the Mediterranean and certainly the most significant since the 1972 underwater discovery of the renowned Riace bronze warriors.
The delicate facial features, inscriptions, and undulating tunics of the dozen bronze figurines and other artifacts dating back 2,000 years were discovered in pristine condition, thanks to the sediment that preserved them.
The figures were accompanied by 5,000 gold, silver, and bronze coins, according to the Italian Ministry of Culture.
What is this discovery’s significance?
Images depict a number of the bronze figures unearthed from the Tuscan thermal spring. Italian Ministry of Culture via AP.
Jacopo Tabolli, who coordinated the excavation for the University for Foreigners in Siena, deemed the find significant because it sheds new light on the end of the Etruscan civilization and the expansion of the Roman empire, which was marked by wars and conflicts across the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio.
Nonetheless, the bronze statues bearing both Etruscan and Latin inscriptions indicate that Etruscan and Roman families prayed together in the sacred sanctuary of the thermal baths.
Tabolli explains, “While social and civil wars were being fought outside the sanctuary between the second and first centuries B.C., elite Etruscan and Roman families prayed together in a context of peace surrounded by conflict”
There are Latin and Etruscan inscriptions on the statues that refer to the divinity of the fountain. He added, “We are discussing ancient masterpieces that add to and open a new chapter in the history and study of bronze statues and sacred rites during the time between the Etruscans and the Romans.”
Central Italy aerial view of the ancient Tuscan thermal spring in San Casciano dei Bagni.Italian Ministry of Culture via AP
Culture Ministry via AP discovered a face-down statue at a thermal spring in San Casciano dei Bagni, Tuscany.
The discovery also represents the greatest deposit of bronzes from this period in Italy, which is notable given that the majority of the period’s surviving artifacts are predominantly made of terracotta.
The Italian Ministry of Culture has announced the construction of a new museum to house the sculptures discovered in the Mediterranean as a result of a recent discovery of immense significance.