January 31, 2023

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Discovery of Ancient Bronze Statues in Italy May Rewrite Etruscan and Roman History: NPR

Discovery of Ancient Bronze Statues in Italy May Rewrite Etruscan and Roman History: NPR

Statues at the site of the discovery of twenty well-preserved bronze statues from an ancient Tuscan thermal spring in San Cassiano dei Bagni, Italy, on November 3.

Italian Ministry of Culture


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Statues at the site of the discovery of twenty well-preserved bronze statues from an ancient Tuscan thermal spring in San Cassiano dei Bagni, Italy, on November 3.

Italian Ministry of Culture

ROME – Italian archaeologists have hailed a recent discovery as the “most extraordinary” of the past half-century. They believe that the history of the relationship between the Etruscan and Roman civilizations can be rewritten.

Over a few weeks in September and October, a team of archaeologists unearthed twenty bronze statues of human figures, more than 2,000 years old and perfectly preserved in the hot mud and water of an ancient sacred pond.

The location is the Tuscan hot springs San Cassiano dei Bagni – San Casciano of the Baths, one of many picturesque hilltop towns towering over lush green valleys dotted with majestic cypress trees.

Archaeologists work at the site of an ancient thermal spring in San Cassiano dei Bagni, Italy, on July 29.

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Archaeologists work at the site of an ancient thermal spring in San Cassiano dei Bagni, Italy, on July 29.

Italian Ministry of Culture

But in the third century BC, this place had a unique attraction: the ancient Etruscans built a sanctuary in the local hot springs that later gave the city its name.

The Etruscans lived and prospered for 500 years in what is today central Italy—the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio—before the establishment of the Roman Republic in 509 BC, after the last Etruscan king to rule Rome was overthrown.

Roman art and culture was greatly influenced by the Etruscan civilization, which eventually coalesced into the Roman Empire.

The valley just below the city contains 42 springs that provide one of the largest thermal water flows in Europe, he says Ludovico SalernoMember of the local antiquities association that participated in the excavations.

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Standing on the edge of the ancient spa excavation site and pointing to the water flowing from an underground aqueduct, he says, “This source is the most powerful in San Cassiano. Every day it pumps out hundreds of thousands of gallons of 105-degree water.”

Ludovico Salerno, vice president of the San Casciano dei Bagni Archaeological Society, at the archaeological site on November 12 “Patients came to the sanctuary in the hope of recovery and offering gifts to the gods,” he says. “It was a place of suffering, and it was a place of hope.”

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Ludovico Salerno, vice president of the San Casciano dei Bagni Archaeological Society, at the archaeological site on November 12 “Patients came to the sanctuary in the hope of recovery and offering gifts to the gods,” he says. “It was a place of suffering, and it was a place of hope.”

Valerio Musella for NPR

Starting in 2020, funded by the Municipality of San Cassiano dei Bagni, archaeologists have unearthed a large marble pool from ancient times. safe haven. It was decorated with fountains and altars to the gods Apollo, his son Asclepius and Asclepius’ daughter Hygea – its name is the origin of the English word cleanliness.

The Etruscans had adopted their religion from the Greeks and the main elements of the Etruscan religion were later adopted by Roman Senate.

When the Romans later expanded the sanctuary and made it more luxurious, historians A Frequent visitor I was Emperor Augustus.

A group of tourists walks to the archaeological site of San Casciano dei Bagni, located next to a public thermal water pool, on November 12.

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A group of tourists walks to the archaeological site of San Casciano dei Bagni, located next to a public thermal water pool, on November 12.

Valerio Musella for NPR

But this site, Salerno says, was not intended for recreation.

“The pool was a sacred place, and only religious guards bathed in it. The sick would come to the sanctuary in the hope of recovery and offer gifts to the gods. It was a place of suffering, and it was a place of hope.”

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The first finds were coins and small votive offerings representing the parts of the body that needed healing—ears, feet, torso, and the like.

Then, this fall, two years after the excavations began, a team of archaeologists found twenty bronze statues, three feet high, perfectly preserved by mud and water at the bottom of the large pond.

Among them is a sleeping teenage male – known as the ivibi — lying next to a statue of Hyagea with a snake coiled around her arms.

The statues were found at the San Casciano dei Bagni site in Tuscany, on November 3.

Italian Ministry of Culture


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The statues were found at the San Casciano dei Bagni site in Tuscany, on November 3.

Italian Ministry of Culture

Archaeologist Emmanuel Mariottithe director of field work overseeing the excavation site, says finding many of the objects in their original location provides unique historical context.

“This isn’t just spotting statues, small and large bronzes, coins and … architecture. Everything has to be in the right place with the right things around it,” says Mariotti. “That’s the context. The context can tell us the real history and all the history about this place.”

Emanuele Mariotti, archaeologist and director of field work for the municipality of San Cassiano dei Bagni, at the archaeological site on November 12.

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Emanuele Mariotti, archaeologist and director of field work for the municipality of San Cassiano dei Bagni, at the archaeological site on November 12.

Valerio Musella for NPR

Mariotti and his colleagues think that in ancient times, there may have been a smithy at the site, where people seeking cures from the gods could have their votive offerings forged from bronze. And the researchers found Bronze depiction of the internal organs – What Mariotti says amounts to unique old versions of X-rays: “Something like an X-ray but in bronze, a picture [insides of the] Bronze body.

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When asked if the anatomical details were accurate, Mariotti replied, “Very accurate…really scientifically accurate, really”.

The new discoveries also shed light on what the Italian Ministry of Culture has to offer Describe As a unique “multicultural, polyglot haven of peace” between the Etruscans and Romans at a time when the adversaries were often at war.

Scientists can, says Mariotti, rewrite the history of the transition from the Etruscan civilization to the Roman Empire.

“We can describe all of life, day by day, in four or five centuries, so that’s incredible,” he says.

The statues were discovered in San Casciano dei Bagni. Archaeologists have unearthed more than twenty bronze statues, dating back more than 2,000 years, perfectly preserved in the hot mud and water of an ancient sacred pond.

Italian Ministry of Culture


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Italian Ministry of Culture

The statues were discovered in San Casciano dei Bagni. Archaeologists have unearthed more than twenty bronze statues, more than 2,000 years old and perfectly preserved in the hot mud and water of an ancient sacred pond.

Italian Ministry of Culture

But for all the new information coming out of the sanctuary of San Cassiano dei Bagni, there is one great mystery: Why didn’t the Christians destroy this site – or convert it into a church – as they did many pagan temples?

Researchers have determined that around AD 500—about two centuries after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, which was waning by this time—the sanctuary was dismantled piece by piece. The statues were placed at the bottom of the large pool, covered and sealed with columns and large slabs of marble. Civilization was buried, says Mariotti, with “betas– the Latin word for family respect and devotion.

Excavations at the sanctuary will resume in the spring. Gnomes – now studying at Restoration Institute From the town of Grosseto – it will eventually be shown in a new museum to be built in San Casciano dei Bagni.

A statue was discovered in San Casciano dei Bagni.

Italian Ministry of Culture


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