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Home English Archaeologists discover Augustan-era sculptures near Rome

Archaeologists discover Augustan-era sculptures near Rome


Rome, January 8 - Archaeologists say they've
uncovered an "exceptional" group of sculptures dating to the 1st
century BC in a villa in Rome's suburb of Ciampino.
The sculptures, found in an ancient villa owned by Roman
general Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, a patron of the poet
Ovid, tell the myth of Niobe, the proud daughter of Tantalus who
lost all her 14 children after boasting to the mother of Apollo
and Artemis, Leto, about her fertility.
Niobe, regarded as a classic example of the retribution
caused by the sin of pride or hubris, was turned to stone.
Excavations at the villa have also revealed a thermal bath
area with fragments of artistic mosaics and a swimming pool as
long as 20 meters with walls painted blue.
Inside the bath area were found seven sculptures dating to
the Augustan age, as well as a complete series of fragments that
experts say can be reassembled.
The group tells the story of Niobe, which figured in Ovid's
epic poem of transformation, the Metamorphoses, published in AD
La Repubblica newspaper said Tuesday a team of
archaeologists made the valuable discovery last summer.
"Statues of Niobe have been found in the past, but in the
case of Ciampino, we have a good part of the group," of statues,
said Elena Calandra, superintendent of archaeological heritage.
According to their reconstruction of the bath area, experts
say the statues were carved on all four sides of the swimming
pool, which may have been buried by an earthquake in the 2nd
century AD.

(file photo of Niobe statue)

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