Ancient Etruscans Prayed at Sacred Hot Springs, Stunning Statues Reveal
Archaeologists in Italy have unearthed more than two dozen 2,000-year-old bronze statues, many impeccably preserved in millennia of mud, alongside thousands of pieces left behind by the Romans and Etruscans, a mysterious people who once ruled parts of the Italian peninsula. and whose language has not yet been deciphered.
Since 2019, archaeologists dug in San Casciano dei Bagni, a town in the central Italian region of Tuscany, and their perseverance paid off. The antique statues are the largest concentration of bronze statues from this period ever found in Italy and include pieces that depict Apollo and Hygeia, the ancient Greek god and goddess of health. Some of the statues also contain Etruscan and Latin inscriptions, according to a translation statement (opens in a new tab). (The Etruscan written language uses the Latin alphabet, but scholars was unable to decipher the words.)
In addition to full-body carvings, archaeologists have found bronze carvings of individual body parts and organs, which may have been used as offerings to the gods, alongside 5,000 goldsilver and bronze coins.
“It’s a discovery that will rewrite history,” Jacopo Tabolli (opens in a new tab)an archaeologist from the University for Foreigners of Siena who coordinated the excavations, said in the statement.
Archaeologists discovered the collection in a hot spring near the township, where the muddy waters helped preserve the pieces. The artifacts date from the end of the Etruscan civilization, roughly between the middle of the 3rd century BC and 90 BC, when the Roman Empire was getting bigger.
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Although the Romans had fought the Etruscans in previous centuries and the Romans eventually conquered the Etruscans and assimilated them into Roman culture, the hoard offers insight into how the Etruscan and Roman families probably came together in the sacred pools to pray to the deities.
“While there were social and civil wars outside the sanctuary…inside the sanctuary, the great elite of Etruscan and Roman families prayed together in a context of peace surrounded by conflict,” Tabolli said. “This possibility of rewriting the relationship and the dialectic between the Etruscans and the Romans is an exceptional opportunity.”
He added that “even in historical times when the most terrible conflicts raged outside, inside these pools and on these altars, the two worlds, Etruscan and Roman, seem to have coexisted without problem”, said he declared. ANSA (opens in a new tab)an Italian news agency.
Based on the significance of these finds, the Italian Ministry of Culture announced that it would begin construction of a new museum to house the antiquities.