An Ancient Hercules “Life-Size” Statue Found in Rome

An Ancient Hercules "Life-Size" Statue Was Accidentally Found in Rome's Park, While a Sewerage System Repairs Were Taking Place.

Jan 31, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
An Ancient Hercules
Photo from the Parco Archeologico dell’Appia Antica.


An ancient Hercules “life-size” statue dawned in Rome’s park. Workers came across this significant artifact, while cleaning a hundred years old sewerage pipeline. A statement from the Appia Antica Archaeological Park supports this information. The statue could also date back to the time when Rome was on top of its power (27 BC to AD 476).


An Ancient Hercules On the Wrong Place?

An Ancient Hercules
The statue of Hercules. Photograph: Parco Archeologico dell’Appia Antica


An ancient sewer pipe crashed under a park in Rome, so crews needed to fix the damage. Who could have imagined they would find something like this? “I doubt anyone expected a find like this under these circumstances,” an archaeologist, Dr. Jane Draycott said. This definitely was a nice surprise.


But, how can we know that this statue is Hercules? The Appia Antica Park said the statue consists of the lion coat over its head. Also, because the club was there. The crew had to dig 20 meters into the ground. When they got to the Hercules statue, the archaeologists had to be included. Now, the archaeologists have a chance to study this statue.


Photograph: Parco Archeologico dell’Appia Antica


Federica Acierno, a 27-year-old archaeologist is leading a study of the statue. Some damages were found. Although there is damage to the statue’s two legs, excavation also revealed the statue’s foundation, which included its feet.

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Another interesting thing is that the place where the crew located the statue, is not the place where the Romans would have placed it. The archaeologists believe somebody put the statue there, the construction of the sewer system in the first half of the 20th century.


Is This Really Hercules or Just a Person Dressed as Him?

roman architecture tower hercules
Tower of Hercules, built between 1st and 2nd century CE, La Coruña, Spain, via CIAV the Tower of Hercules Visitor Service


Francesca Romana Paolillo, a member of Italy’s Ministry of Culture, it is unlikely the statue actually represents the mythological figure, and instead showcases a person dressed as Hercules. She also said it is possible somebody put the statue where the sewer system is, because there were no archaeological checks at that time.


Hercules, as a figure, was very popular in ancient Rome. He had an effect on men, who tried to be like him. One of those men was the politician, Mark Antony. Some found other ways: Emperor Commodus created statues and other works of art in his likeness. The goal was to symbolize his manliness, according to Draycott.


Photo from the Parco Archeologico dell’Appia Antica


However, because the crucial background is missing, it is unclear who is shown in the sculpture. Even though there is no clear evidence and information about its origins, Draycott believes it could be erected at a nearby villa: “Statues of Hercules were popular decorations for gardens”. Archaeologists are hoping to finally positively identify the man hiding behind Hercules by comparing comparable artifacts.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.