A life-sized statue of a Roman emperor depicted as the Greek hero Hercules was discovered near the Appian Way, ancient Rome’s first highway. The statue was recovered on January 25 during a sewer repair project.
The statue’s face emerged as a bulldozer was tearing through old pipelines. On-site archaeologists investigated the find.
The marble statue has Hercules’s trademark lion skin pelt and club, with frown lines on its forehead that are meant to indicate of a time of deep crisis for the Roman Empire. Its style is typical for 3rd-century depictions of emperors.
Archaeologists believe that the statue might be Emperor Decius, who ruled Rome from 249 CE to 251 CE. Decius was the first Roman emperor to be killed in battle by a foreign enemy. He died while fighting against the Visigoths in present-day Bulgaria, and was also responsible for the first organized execution of Christians.
The statue now exists as several broken pieces, as it sustained some accidental damage during its discovery. It is currently undergoing cleaning and restoration ahead of its public display.
This find comes after archaeologists announced a plan to abandon a search for the remains of the opening stretch of the Appian Way last month due to the interference of forceful groundwater.