By the gods! Ancient statues rise from Tuscan mud.
Archaeologists in Italy have discovered a cache of 24 Etruscan and Roman bronze statues in the remains of an ancient religious sanctuary.
The finds include tiny bronze replicas of human body parts, which were thrown into the thermal waters of the sanctuary by people suffering from illnesses and hoping to be healed. These high-status objects were being offered to the gods as gifts at a sacred sanctuary located near the village of San Casciano dei Bagni in Tuscany. It was a place of worship from the second century BC, first for the Etruscans and then the Romans, who conquered Etruscan lands and incorporated them into their growing empire.
The statues and objects have been preserved over the centuries by the thick mud at the bottom of stone-walled pools. The finds were discovered during an archaeological dig this summer, and are estimated to date from between the second century BC and the first century AD.
In addition to the replica body parts, there are bronze statues of gods and goddesses such as Apollo, Isis, Fortuna and Igea, the goddess of health. Archaeologists have also recovered around 5,000 gold, silver and bronze coins. Many of the bronze objects are inscribed in both Latin and Etruscan, suggesting that Etruscan survived for longer as a living language than previously thought.