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The most extraordinary Ancient Greek statues are in Calabria!

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

1972: Archaeologists recover the statue of an Ancient Greek athlete

I don’t and I won’t post much about Ancient Greece here, but this photo above reminded me of a trip to Italy three years ago. Who would imagine that one of the most detailed Greek statues would be found in a museum of a town in southern Italy(to be fair, this area has a long history of Greek presence from the age of colonization to the Byzantine times.

The Riace statues are two full-size Greek bronzes of naked bearded warriors, cast about 460–450 BC and found in southern Italy. The bronzes are now in the museum of Magna Grecia in Regio do Calabria. They are two of the few surviving full-size ancient Greek bronzes and as such demonstrate the superb technical craftsmanship and exquisite artistic features that were achieved at this time.

This was like in 2017 when I visited southern Italy!

What is extraordinary about this statue are its precise anatomical details. The veins and arteries are visible and the powerful musculature radiates strength and the perfection of the human form.

The lips, eyelashes, and nipples of the statues are made of copper, while the teeth are made of silver paper. Both are produced using the “lost wax” casting technique.

The first statue has hair that is bound by a band, and a thick and abundant beard, with their locks individually modeled.

The second one has a smoother head, sloping upward to better accommodate the Corinthian helmet, which is raised above his head to reveal the face.

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