Ancient statue of Hercules emerges from Rome sewer repairs


Work depicting the Greek mythological hero and apparently dating back to Roman imperial period found near Appian Way.

Routine sewer repairs in an area in Italy’s capital, which was seeking the recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage site, have led to the discovery of an ancient Roman-era marble statue of the demigod Hercules.

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Repair crews were called in after sewer pipes in the national park at the Appian Way collapsed, causing ditches and minor landslides. The excavations, which reached a depth of 20 meters and as rules require in Rome, were carried out with the presence of archaeologists.

The life-size marble statue found at the site is reported to be of Hercules, an ancient Roman demigod known as the protector of the weak. The figure represented by the statue carried a club and had a lion’s coat over his head, part of the iconography representing Hercules.

According to reports, the statue likely dates back to Rome’s imperial period, which stretched from 27 BC to 476 AD.

The find recalls last November’s discovery of two dozen well-preserved bronze statues beneath the foundations of thermal baths in Tuscany. Those statues were 2,300 years old, even older than the Hercules statue.

The marble statue of Hercules was broken during excavations but was otherwise well preserved.

This is the second time this year that the Appian Way makes international headlines. On Jan. 11, Italy’s ministry of culture formally backed the inclusion of the Appian Way on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. It was the first time the ministry ever backed a UNESCO candidacy directly.

The Appian Way is an ancient road that spans 550 km between Rome and the southern Italian city of Brindisi. If it becomes a UNESCO site, the Appian Way will be the second longest such site after the Great Wall of China.