These finds are simply incredible, added archaeologist Jacopo Tabolli, a professor at the Luiss University of Rome who led the excavations.
A sense of History
It’s speculated that these works could date back to the third century BCE. If this hypothesis holds up, these statues could date back to an age that coincides with the tumultuous years that marked the birth of the Roman Empire and its expansion towards the Po Valley, with all the cultural, social, and political changes this implied.
The works tell a piece of our history, a period in which this area was transformed by the entry into the world of Rome, said Tabolli, describing how Rome took control over the Etruscan region, once characterized by strong, independent city-states, a takeover that extended beyond politics into religion, society, and culture.
From the lush landscape dotted with hot springs and spa towns like San Casciano dei Bagni, these civilizations controlled essential traffic and trade routes, moving raw materials, crafts, and people, creating melting pots of languages, cultures, and deities.
Bronze statues of the scale and preservation as those unearthed in San Casciano dei Bagni are extremely rare, and in some cases, almost unprecedented. They bear the unmistakable mark of Etruscan and Roman skill and sophistication in bronze-casting.
We can certainly rewrite the history of art of this era, at least from the point of view of monumental bronze sculpture, said Jacopo Tabolli. The fact is that there was a belief that the Etruscan and Roman world in the second and third centuries BC didn’t produce great bronzes, and the Greek ones were those that prevailed.
These finds challenge these preconceived notions and force a reinterpretation of the importance of Roman and Etruscan contributions to art and civilization, beyond just Greek influence. In the second and third centuries BC, Etruria and Rome created works of the highest quality, Tabolli concluded.
Treasures of Etruria
The figures found comprise various Etruscan and Roman deities, animals, and humans. Among the gods and goddesses are figures of the deities Hygieia, goddess of health, cleanliness, and hygiene; Hercules; and possibly Jupiter, based on the throne found next to one statue. Also found were two heads, one bearded and the other clean-shaven, possibly representing differing stages in the lives of the emperors. These exquisite figures were an integral part of religious rituals, placed in shrines, carried in processions, and offered as votive gifts.
As these bronzes step into the limelight after spending more than 2,000 years in oblivion, their unprecedented scale, intricate details, and unaltered form set a new milestone in the rich history of ancient Mediterranean art and archaeology. The coins, engraved with various images and inscriptions, offer a tantalizing glimpse into the era’s economic system.
Massimo Osanna said, The most surprising thing is not so much the quantity as the quality of the works, the craftsmanship, and the mastery of bronze working.
Highlighting their invaluable worth, Jacopo Tabolli emphasized that Each object will help rewrite a part of the history of Italy.
This excavation reiterates the remarkable aspect of archaeological science. Each mud-soaked discovery serves as a window to the ancient past, revealing stories lost in the annals of history. Italy, with its profound historical wealth, never ceases to unveil valuable cultural treasures, reaffirming its position as one of the cradles of civilization.
The upcoming museum, home to these unearthed gems, is all set to unveil an immersive historical experience. Each figure stands not only as a brilliant artistic work but also as a physical testimony of historical cultures that left an indelible mark on human civilization. Each carving, inscription, and mark unravels tales of political turmoil, religious shifts, social changes, and artistic prowess.
As archaeological research progresses, these remarkable findings promise a reshaped perspective on Etruscan and Roman history. The ongoing excavations around Tuscany could potentially unveil more artifacts, presenting an opportunity to continue uncovering lost chapters of this dynamic historical epoch, creating new understandings and narratives around the people who lived, fought, and thrived thousands of years ago.
And as we, the beholders, come face-to-face with the spectacular past embedded in the bronze, we continue to reconstruct and redefine our understanding of the expansive mosaic of human history.