The discovery reveals the most significant archaeological dig since the unearthing of the renowned Riace bronze warriors 50 years ago.
According to a report by Fortune and Associated Press, “Italian authorities on Tuesday announced the extraordinary discovery of 2,000-year-old bronze statues in an ancient Tuscan thermal spring and said the find will “rewrite history” about the transition from the Etruscan civilization to the Roman Empire.”
The article further states that “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 important since the 1972 underwater discovery of the famed Riace bronze warriors,’ said Massimo Osanna, the Culture Ministry’s director of museums.”
The ministry adds that “thanks to the mud that protected them, the two-dozen figurines and other bronze objects were found in a perfect state of conservation, bearing delicate facial features, inscriptions and rippled tunics. Alongside the figures were 5,000 coins in gold, silver and bronze.” Furthermore, the ministry has announced the “construction of a new museum in the area to house the antiquities.”
Per another article by Smithsonian Magazine, “The find is ‘the largest deposit of bronze statues of the Etruscan and Roman age ever discovered in Italy and one of the most significant in the whole Mediterranean,’ says excavation leader Jacopo Tabolli, a historian at the University for Foreigners in Siena.”
In the same report, it is stated that “the statues date back to between the second century B.C.E. and the first century C.E., which was a time of great upheaval in Tuscan history: The transition from Etruscan to Roman rule was taking place, through hard-fought battles over towns such as this one. After the Romans eventually prevailed, they led a concentrated campaign to redefine and minimize Etruscan culture, burying or destroying historical items.”
The article further states that according to Tabolli: “This discovery rewrites the history of ancient art. Here, Etruscans and Romans prayed together.”
According to the report, “Researchers can’t know for certain why the statues were drowned in the thermal waters, but they do know that the waters helped keep them in such good condition.” The article also states that “the statues together with other discoveries were taken to a restoration lab near Grosseto and they will be on display in a new museum to be opened in San Casciano.”
Photos via Smithsonian Magazine website from the Italian Ministry of Culture.