Look What We Dug Up

A massive marble sculpture (well, bits of it) depicting the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (you’ll remember him from the film Gladiator….here is a clue, he was played by Richard Harris!)  has been unearthed at an archaeological site in Turkey. So far they have found the 3ft head, 5ft-long right arm and lower legs cut off above the knees . Emperor Aurelius  reigned from 161AD until 180AD and was known  as one of the “Five Good Emperors”. The pieces of the statue were found in the largest room at Sagalassos’s Roman baths (typical!). It is believed the statue was destroyed during an earthquake probably between 540AD and 620AD.Other statues have also been unearthed in the room including Emperor Hadrian and Faustina the Elder(the wife of the emperor Antoninus Pius).Archaeologists are expecting to find statues of their respective spouses under the rubble some time soon.

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Damn That Carbon Dating!

The famous Roman statue of the twins, Romulus and Remus, sucking from the she-wolf (Lupa Capitolina) has been carbon dated and guess what? It ain’t that old. Well, it is old, but just not as old as everyone was led to believe. It seems the experts just assumed that the bronze was made by the Etruscan’s in the 5th century BC. Gee, they even had proof,Cicero, a Roman statesman of that period described the statue as having a damaged paw after being struck by lightning. It would take until 2006 before someone called Cicero’s bluff. Anna Maria Carruba, an Italian art expert, was adamant that is was a ruse. She argued that the statue had been cast using a wax mould, something those Etruscan’s knew nothing about. To make matters worse she suggested that the paw was actually a casting mistake (ouch!).  Well, thanks to carbon dating they now believe Lupa Capitolina was manufactured in the 13th century, about 800 years ago, in the Romanesque Period. So what does this mean , will it retain its importance in Roman art? I am thinking not. Whew, lucky Dan Brown didn’t use Lupa Capitolina in the Da Vinci Code (that would have been embarrassing!).