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Bronze statues discovered by San Casciano dei Bagni Spa after 2,000 years underwater

ROME – The discovery of 24 perfectly preserved bronze statues from the 2nd century BC B.C. at a thermal spa in Tuscany has provided archaeologists with a rare glimpse into the past that may “rewrite history,” they say.

The discovery was made at the spa San Casciano dei Bagni in Tuscany, which has natural thermal springs thousands of years old that lure tourists to the city to bathe in the same thermal waters as the emperors.

Archaeologists were hoping to uncover the original thermal pool when they found the first hands sticking out of the soaking thermal mud two weeks ago. Since then, 24 statues have been created, including replicas of Hygieia, the goddess of health with a snake slung around her arm, alongside Apollo and other deities, matrons and emperors. “This is the most important discovery of the Riace bronzes and certainly one of the most important bronzes ever made in the history of the ancient Mediterranean,” said Massimo Osanna, Italy’s director general for museums at the Ministry of Culture, at the unveiling of the site on Tuesday. The city will build a museum in a 16th-century villa and develop an archaeological park dedicated to the statues to keep them in place, he said.

The statues, which were part of a votive deposit containing coins and other artifacts with inscriptions in Etruscan and Latin, were buried in the thermal waters as part of a religious rite and were never to be found, Osanna said.

The excavation is the first of its kind in Italy, said archaeologist Jacopo Tabolli of the University for Foreigners in Siena on Tuesday. He leads a team of 60 experts from around the world who will study the statues to fill in historical gaps. “This is an absolutely unique treasure,” he said. “It includes an incredible amount of inscriptions in Etruscan and Latin and thousands of coins, as well as a number of equally interesting vegetable offerings.”

Tabolli called the find “a discovery that will rewrite history” as it is “the largest body of statues from ancient Italy and certainly the only one whose context we can fully reconstruct”.

The thermal baths where the statues were found were from the 3rd century BC. until the 5th century AD, when public bathing was forbidden in Christian times. Archaeologists worked to remove massive stone pillars that had blocked the ancient baths and which were the focus of the current excavation. Underground hot springs feed several modern spas and baths in the area, many utilizing the original terraces and hillsides, but the ancient pools have been untouched for centuries.

Luigi La Rocca, Director General of Archaeology, said that archaeologists, geologists, archaeobotanists and inscribers were involved in the excavation, although no one expected such an undocumented find.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/san-casciano-dei-bagni-spa-bronze-statues-discovered-after-2000-years-under-water?source=articles&via=rss Bronze statues discovered by San Casciano dei Bagni Spa after 2,000 years underwater

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