The exhibition, which opened Friday at Rome’s Quirinale Palace, is the quintessential poor-to-rich story.
Just 10 months ago, many of the statues now on display there (cleverly spotlighted and captioned) were a sacred pool of thermal mineral water roughly halfway between Florence and Rome. It was submerged in a thick layer of mud in places.
Its rediscovery during archaeological excavations right below the Tuscan town of San Casciano dei Bagni last autumn made headlines around the world. It was a rare honor for a bronze statue to be exhibited at an international museum. Presidential Palace.
“This is an extraordinary find,” Luigi La Rocca, a culture ministry official in charge of archaeology, fine arts and landscapes, told reporters at the palace on Thursday, praising the variety, quality and state of preservation of the bronzes. ‘ said.
These relics, mostly dating from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD, were votives collected in the sacred pools of the so-called Bagno Grande, or “bath”. This pool was part of a sanctuary that was used in various ways. Over 700 years.
Statues and other artefacts were hidden under layers of terracotta tiles along with bronze lightning strikes, following the Etruscan tradition of burying lightning-struck objects in sacred places around the 1st century AD when lightning struck a building. I was. “Frugul conditional. ”
The votive offerings, mainly bronze coins and plants, continued until Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD. The sanctuary was then dismantled and its offerings reburied, contributing to its remarkable preservation.
Excavations to uncover them began in 2019, but it was not until 2020 that the first artifacts such as inscriptions, altars and small bronzes began to emerge. Last year, archaeologists dug deeper into the sacred pond.
“I thought there might be something here, but nothing like what I found,” said excavation director Emanuele Mariotti, who was surveying the site on a recent hot afternoon. Told. “It was like a time capsule waiting to be opened,” he added.
Findings provide insight into ancient medical practices. The water was considered therapeutic by “Etruscans, Romans, Christians and pagans,” Mariotti said. “It was a place of healing, a place where culture and medical knowledge met.”
Many of the bronzes bear inscriptions from the territory of Perugia, about 70 kilometers northeast of San Casciano, a considerable distance to travel over 2,000 years ago. This shows how “complex and nuanced” cultural exchanges were at the time, added Jacopo Taborri, the scientific director of the excavations and co-curator of the Quirinal Show.
“God has changed, but water has not,” he added.
Some of the bronzes are still being restored, but many have arrived at the Quirinale for exhibition. One room displays bronzes of arms, legs, ears, and other body parts, reflecting various ailments treated in the hot springs.
“This is unique,” said Mariotti, before pausing in front of two bronze plaques depicting internal organs “very accurately.” Similar terracotta examples existed, but no bronze ones were known until now, he said.
Other statues represented swaddled men, women, and small children, as well as gods and goddesses. Some were sick and needed treatment. Others seemed to benefit from the treatment.
The hot springs are still used today for their therapeutic effects, both in public baths near the ruins and in private resorts.
For the picturesque hilltop town of San Casciano dei Bagni, the ancient finds hope to bring new economic prospects, especially after the opening of a new museum in the city centre. there is
Earlier this week, at a deed of transfer ceremony in Rome attended by various authorities, the Ministry of Culture ordered from local clerics to house a museum (listed at €670,000, about $730,000) and Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro. Official purchase of the palace of San Casciano dei Bagni. Sangiuliano promised to provide “additional resources.”
Massimo Osanna, director of the Italian State Museum, said Thursday that he hopes to have part of the museum completed next year. “I’m an optimist,” he said.
“This will be a huge opportunity,” said the town’s mayor, Agnese Carletti. Following the previous administration, the Carletti Council championed and funded the local archaeological excavations that led to the discovery, and provided rooms and board for archaeological students participating in the summer excavations.
With new excavations starting next week, Tabori said he will focus on expanding the site to better understand the conditions surrounding the sacred pond. “We have rebuilt the structure of the sanctuary, but there is still much to learn about the entire site, which should have been monumental,” he said.
Osanna said there could be more surprises in store. “We don’t know what else this sanctuary can offer,” he says.