An ancient life-sized marble statue of a man wearing a lion headdress, initially thought to be Hercules, was discovered during sewage works near the second mile of the Appia Antica road in Rome, Italy.
Archaeologists are now investigating whether the statue, which probably dates back to the Roman era, is a statue of the ancient Greek semi-god and hero, who was also worshipped by the Romans, or, most likely, a statue of a powerful Roman official, depicted as Hercules, the Archaeological Park of Appia Antica explains on Facebook.
It is believed that the statue was thrown into the trench a century ago, when sewage works first took place in the area. That deprives the finding of its original context and geographical surroundings, and limits the hints provided about its identity.
“In order to identify and date the statue, we must therefore “seek comparisons” by analyzing similar artifacts: one of the archaeologist’s main post-excavation activities,” the post explains.
Emperor or other prominent figure depicted as Hercules
At first glimpse, experts found “a fair similarity” between the facial characteristics of the statue in the guise of Hercules and the emperor Gaius Messius Quintus Traianus Decius, better known as Decius Trajan, who reigned from 249 to 251 and killed together with son Erennio Etrusco in the battle of Abrittus between Goths and Romans.
“The face of our “Hercules”, albeit corroded, seems to share the “anxiety wrinkles” of the official portraits of Decius, reminiscent of the Roman republican portraiture aimed at representing concern for the fate of the State, a virtue valued very positively in the high offices of the empire,” the post continues.
Other characteristic features are the treatment of the sparse beard and the morphology of the eyes, nose and lips.
Nonetheless, the archaeologists will examine all possibilities. After the cleaning, further elements are expected to emerge which will either confirm the initial hypothesis or direct towards other identifications.
In any case, it is most likely the man in the lion headdress to have been a prominent figure, since he was represented in the guise of Hercules.
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