Ancient Marble Statue Of Hermes Unearthed In Roman Sewer

Statue of Hermes Unearthed in Ancient Roman Sewer

A 7-foot-tall marble statue of the Greek God Hermes has been unearthed in an ancient Roman sewer in the Bulgarian village of Rupite. This well-preserved statue emerged during excavation at the historic site of Heraclea Sintica, near the Greek border.

Bulgarian archaeologists, despite the statue’s substantial size, believe it was deliberately buried. Heraclea Sintica, founded by Philip II of Macedon between 356 BCE and 339 BCE, was a thriving city that later suffered devastation from an earthquake in 388 CE. Following this disaster, the town rapidly declined and was eventually abandoned by 500 CE.

Hermes, known as the messenger of the Gods in the ancient Greek pantheon, may have been placed in the sewer around the time of the earthquake. Experts speculate that this act could have been an effort to preserve the deity or a symbolic rejection of pagan practices as Christianity gained prominence.

The statue is thought to be a Roman copy of the statue of Hermes, a celebrated work of ancient Greek sculpture attributed to the renowned sculptor Lysippos, one of the three greatest sculptors of Classical Greece. Carved from a single block of marble, this statue dates back to the 2nd century A.D. Its size, contrapposto posture, chlamys, and tree trunk support next to the left leg closely resemble the Atalante Hermes, a marble statue discovered in central Greece that is a 2nd-century copy of a 4th-century B.C. original. The Atalante Hermes is missing the caduceus, which would have been held in his left hand. Hopefully, the caduceus will remain intact when the Heraclea Sintica Hermes is fully excavated.

Lysippos was one of the most renowned sculptors of ancient Greece. He was active during the 4th century B.C. and hailed from Sicyon, a city in the northern Peloponnesus. As a contemporary of Alexander the Great, Lysippos gained significant recognition for his innovative approach to sculpture, which marked a departure from the classical style established by earlier sculptors like Polykleitos.

Lysippos is credited with transforming the depiction of the human form by introducing more dynamic and naturalistic proportions. He often created figures with slenderer bodies and smaller heads, which gave his sculptures a heightened sense of movement and realism. This new style came to be known as the “Lysippean canon” and had a profound influence on subsequent generations of artists.

Among his most famous works are the statues of Alexander the Great, who appointed Lysippos as his official portraitist. Lysippos’ representations of Alexander are noted for their lifelike quality and for capturing the youthful vigour and charisma of the Macedonian conqueror. Another celebrated work attributed to Lysippos is the “Apoxyomenos” (The Scraper), which depicts an athlete scraping sweat and dust from his body with a strigil. This statue is admired for its intricate detail and the sense of immediacy it conveys.

Lysippos’ artistic legacy is further evidenced by the numerous Roman copies of his works that have survived, as the originals, typically cast in bronze, were often melted down in later periods. His contributions to sculpture are pivotal in transitioning from the Classical to the Hellenistic period, emphasizing individualism and expressive realism. Lysippos’ innovative techniques and ability to infuse static marble and bronze with a sense of life and motion secured his place as a master sculptor in the annals of art history.

Lyudmil Vagalinski, who led the team from Bulgaria’s National Archaeological Museum, shared insights with CNN. He noted that the statue, a Roman copy of a Greek original, remains in “excellent condition” despite some fractures on its hands. Vagalinski highlighted preserving the statue’s head, underscoring the significance of this archaeological find.

Top Photo Courtesy

Read More