Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018

Riace Bronzes to return home later this year

English
© ANSA

ANSA) - Reggio Calabria, August 14 - Italy's iconic Riace
Bronzes will return to their home at the Reggio Calabria
National Museum later this year after lengthy restoration work.
For almost three years the 2,500-year-old ancient Greek
statues representing warriors have been in the Calabrian
regional government's headquarters, undergoing a long-awaited
restoration.
A host of chemical, laser and electromagnetic tests
designed to help experts better understand where the statues
came from, and who created them, were also carried out.
So now, it's almost time for them to return to their
permanent home.
According to the superintendent for archaeological and
cultural heritage of Calabria, Simonetta Bonomi, restoration
work should be completed near the end of the year and the two
warriors "will be back home again" in time for Christmas.
The celebrated bronzes were found in August 1972 off the
coast of Calabria and quickly captured worldwide attention.
They were so highly prized that they are rarely allowed to
travel from their home, despite repeated requests.
Even former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was turned
down twice after seeking to borrow the statues for Group of
Eight summits.
During the current restoration work, the Riace Bronzes,
last let out in 1981 for a triumphant round-Italy tour, have
been kept inside a purpose-built area with a glass front
allowing visitors to watch the delicate restoration work.
Meanwhile, the Reggio Calabria museum has been undergoing
restorations itself while the bronzes have been away.
Approximately six million euros have been earmarked for
that project, and regional authorities have released the final
funds need to complete the work before year end.
The Bronzes were discovered in 1972 by a Roman holidaymaker
scuba diving off the Calabrian coast and turned out to be one of
Italy's most important archaeological finds in the last 100
years.
The statues are of two virile men, presumably warriors or
gods, who possibly held lances and shields at one time. At
around two metres, they are larger than life.
The 'older' man, known as Riace B, wears a helmet, while
the 'younger' Riace A has nothing covering his rippling hair.
Both are naked.
Although the statues are cast in bronze, they feature
silver lashes and teeth, copper red lips and nipples, and eyes
made of ivory, limestone and a glass and amber paste.
Italy has the world's biggest trove of archeological
treasures but the Riace Bronzes attracted particular attention.
This was partly due to their exceptionally realistic
rendering and partly to the general rarity of ancient bronze
statues, which tended to be melted down and recycled.
Stefano Mariottini, the scuba diver who first spotted one
of the statues some 300 meters off the coast and eight metres
underwater, said the bronze was so realistic that he initially
thought he'd found the remains of a corpse.
A million people came to see them in 1981 and the pair are
even featured on a commemorative postage stamp.
The statues usually pull around 130,000 visitors annually
to the Reggio Calabria National Museum.

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