Antiquities and Archaeology
Amazing ancient bronzes given up by Calabrian sea
Forty years since the finding of the Riace Bronzes, divers discover new treasures underwater
By Ermanno Rivetti. Web only
Published online: 22 August 2012
Three divers have discovered ancient bronze artefacts, believed to be Greek or Phoenician, off the coast of Calabria, in southern Italy. The finds include two statues and the remains of an ancient ship. The site is around 50km south of the spot where the Riace Bronzes were discovered 40 years ago, in 1972.
The divers have told the Italian press that they have seen many more treasures lying on the seabed. A team of police divers from Messina have secured an area with a 500m radius.
The three divers found a gilded bronze sculpture of a lion on a bronze square panel measuring 15cm by 15cm. They also discovered what they initially thought was a bronze set of armour, but which is now believed to be a statue, lodged between some rocks on the seafloor, around 300m from the lion.
The remains of an ancient ship were discovered close by, and the divers also reported seeing coloured fragments of vases strewn around the area. It is likely that the artefacts sunk with the ship.
Meanwhile the cultural heritage arm of the Carabinieri is investigating an “irregularity” in the reporting of the find, as the superintendent of Calabria’s archaeological heritage Simonetta Bonomi has called it.
It seems that the discovery was made on 16 August but reported five days later, although Italian law requires discoveries of this kind to be reported within 24 hours to minimise the risk of looting.
In a twist of fate, the famous Riace Bronzes were discovered exactly 40 years ago to the day, on 16 August 1972. They have been languishing out of public view in government offices in Reggio Calabria since 2009.
This is because officials keep postponing the opening of the city’s Museo Archeologico Nazionale, where the Bronzes were once housed, which is still undergoing renovation. The latest opening date has been scheduled for December.
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