Archaeologists in Italy have found more than two dozen beautifully preserved bronze statues dating back to ancient Roman times in thermal baths in Tuscany, in what experts are hailing as an "exceptional" discovery.
The statues were found over the last two weeks in San Casciano dei Bagni, a hilltop town about 160 kilometres north of Rome where archaeologists have been exploring ancient ruins for the last three years.
Archaeologists in Italy have found more than two dozen beautifully preserved bronze statues dating back to ancient Roman times in thermal baths in Tuscany, in what experts are hailing as an "exceptional" discovery | Read more: https://t.co/I4MqaSz4DH pic.twitter.com/d3PWugNIFT— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 8, 2022
"From the bottom of the pool at the lowest point of its monumental construction, 24 masterpieces of bronze statues between the second and first centuries B.C. have re-emerged," Jacopo Tabolli, an assistant professor from the University for Foreigners in Siena who is leading the archaeological project, said.
"This is a moment of transition in Etruria between the Etruscan phase of domination of the territory and the Roman phase, and yet the moment of conflict that must have taken place around the sanctuary, and it was in the sacred pool that Etruscans and Romans made votive offerings together," he added.
Tabolli added the statues - which according to Italy's ANSA news agency are 2,300 years old - used to adorn a sanctuary before they were immersed in thermal waters, in a sort of ritual, "probably around the 1st century AD."
The statues were covered by almost 6,000 bronze, silver and gold coins, and San Casciano's hot waters helped to preserve them "almost like as on the day they were immersed," Tabolli said.
The archaeologist, an expert in Etruscology and Italic Archaeology, said his team found 24 large statues, plus several smaller statuettes, and noted that it was unusual for them to be made out of bronze, rather than terracotta.
After the restoration, the statues will eventually be returned to San Casciano dei Bagni to be displayed in a new museum.