Last year, archaeologists discovered more than 20 ancient Roman and Etruscan statues near a thermal bath in Tuscany where, for years, experts had unsuccessfully searched for ancient ruins believed to be in the area—all thanks to a retired neighborhood garbageman.
Now, according to a report by Reuters Friday, the 2000-year-old statues, after months of cleaning and restoration, will go on view in Rome’s Quirinale Palace starting June 22. When they were first discovered, experts called the trove of ancient figures the “biggest collection of ancient bronze statues ever found in Italy” and claimed they would “rewrite history.”
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The statues were found in the Tuscan village of San Casciano dei Bagni in the Siena province, about 100 miles from Rome. Since 2019 archaeologists had been surveying the village’s public baths, which date back to the Renaissance, but found little trace of the ancient ruins they believed to be there.
Then, Stefano Petrini, an amateur historian and retired neighborhood garbage man, remembered he had once seen traces of ancient Roman columns, years before, while standing in a garden that belonged to his friend, the local grocer. The columns Petrini saw were only visible from that garden, which was opposite to where the archaeologists had been digging.
Buried deep beneath the mud were the ancient statues, which appeared to be offerings to the gods in return for good health, sculptures of body parts including ears and feet, well as eggshells, pinecones, and surgical tools.
The highlight of this discovery, according to the report, was a 35-inch statue of a sickly boy who seemed to have suffered from some manner of bone disease, inscribed with the name “Marcius Grabillo.”
“[The discovery] opens a window into how Romans and Etruscans experienced the nexus between health, religion and spirituality,” Ada Salvi, a culture ministry archaeologist for the Tuscan provinces of Siena, Grosseto and Arezzo told Reuters. “There’s a whole world of meaning that has to be understood and studied.”
Emanuele Mariotti, head of the San Casciano project, is certain that more will be uncovered as the site continues to be excavated. “We’ve only just lifted the lid,” he told Reuters.