Preliminary cleaning and conservation of the statue of a Hercules-clad emperor found on January 23rd in the Appia Antica Archaeological Park has begun, and it’s remarkable what an effect tiny sharp scraping tools and water can achieve.
First a bit of bad news. Something I suspected when first seeing the pictures but none of the original stories on the find stated is that the statue was broken during its discovery by the heavy machinery that was removing the old sewer pipe above it. You can see in the picture where it’s still covered in soil that there are bright white gashes on his abdomen, legs and club. The right leg is sheered off at the hip. His penis is no more. Now that the soil has been rinsed off, there is also visible scuffing in multiple places. That damage is brand new, alas, inflicted by the digger when it made contact.
The good news is most of the component pieces are large and can be pieced back together. The largest are the main body of the statue, the right leg and the tree stump it leans against. They also recovered Hercules’ club, his quiver, his left shin, part of an arm, the feet and base of the stump on a square base and a number of smaller fragments. I hope his genitalia are in there somewhere.
This video from the Ministry of Culture has very satisfying close-up views of the cleaning in progress. Way too short.