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November 10, 2022

Archaeology, new extraordinary bronze statues discovered at the sanctuary of San Casciano dei Bagni


San Casciano dei Bagni
Courtesy of the Italian Ministry of Culture

From the thermal waters, the largest discovery of bronzes ever to emerge in Italy, “will rewrite the history of Etruscan-Roman statuary”.


In San Cassiano dei Bani in Tuscany, a very important archaeological discovery was made under the mud and hot waters of the surrounding area, which has been known for centuries for its geothermal energy and thermal baths.


Italian archaeologists excavated 24 bronze statues of excellent quality, five of which are almost one meter high and very well preserved. Together, a large number of inscriptions in Etruscan and Latin, as well as thousands of coins, in a space that served as a sacred temple.


According to the announcement of the Italian Ministry of Culture, “most of these masterpieces of antiquity date between the 2nd century BC. and the 1st century AD, a historical period of significant transformations in ancient Tuscany, during the transition between the Etruscans and the Romans”. In this era of great conflicts between Rome and the Etruscan cities, but also of the struggles within the social fabric of Rome, in the sanctuary of Bagno Grande the noble families of the Etruscans, at a time when the expansion of Rome also meant cultural osmosis, dedicated statues in holy water. An absolutely unique multicultural and multilingual context of peace, surrounded by political instability and war.


Courtesy of the Italian Ministry of Culture

“A discovery that will rewrite history,”said the archaeologist Jacopo Tampoli, the young lecturer at the University of Siena who has been leading the project since 2019, told the Italian news agency ANSA, adding that “more than 60 experts from all over the world are already working on the excavation.


As the Ministerial announcement notes, “this one in Tuscany is the largest ‘storehouse’ of bronze statues of the Etruscan and Roman periods ever discovered in ancient Italy and one of the most important in the entire Mediterranean: unparalleled, mainly because, until now, they were mainly known terracotta statues from this period”.


According to the archaeologist, “the sanctuary with gushing lakes, sloping terraces, fountains and altars, existed at least from the 3rd century BC. and remained active until the 5th century AD, when it was closed but not destroyed in the Christian era. The lakes were sealed with heavy stone pillars and the deities were respectfully assigned to the water.”


The bronzes of San Casciano depict the deities venerated in the sacred place, together with the organs and anatomical parts for which the curative intervention of the divinity was requested through the thermal waters. In recent weeks figures of Hygieia and Apollo have re-emerged from the hot mud, as well as a bronze that recalls the famous Orator, also known as L’Arringatore, discovered in Perugia and in the historical collections of the National Archaeological Museum of Florence.


Courtesy of the Italian Ministry of Culture

“The importance of the method used in this excavation is also represented by the collaboration between specialists of each discipline: from architects to geologists, from archaeobotanists to experts in epigraphy and numismatics”, explains the Director of the Directorate General for Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of the MiC, Luigi La Rocca.


The new Minister of Culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has already visited the restoration workshop where the winter work of restoration and cleaning of the statues will take place, and declared that this is “an extraordinary find that confirms once again that Italy is a country of enormous and unique treasures. The layering of different cultures is unique in Italian culture”.


The General Director of Museums of the Ministry of Culture, Massimo Osana, emphasized that this is the “most important discovery since 50 years, after the bronze warriors of Riace in 1972, and certainly one of the most important bronze finds ever made in the history of the ancient Mediterranean”. In fact, as ANSA points out, Osana has just approved the purchase of a 16th-century palace that will house the findings of the future archaeological park.


The excavation at San Casciano has now stopped as the winter restoration of the artefacts begins. Excavation effort will continue in the spring.






written by Thodoris - Mythiko