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The Bronze Statues of Brindisi

Published in the magazine "Archeo", Sabatino Moscati describes this as being the greatest archaeological find of the season. He was referring to the over two hundred archaeological finds on the sea bed found in the locality of "Punta del Serrone", an area approximately 2 miles north of the city of Brindisi.
In the article, Moscati describes these as antique works of art, admirable even in their fragmented states which have been brought to the surface and are celebrated as the "Bronzes of Brindisi".

The bust of the Roman Council Lucio Emilio PaoloThis discovery dates back to the 19th and 25th of July, 1992 when five passionate divers, Luigi Robusto, who at the time was an officer of the "Carabinieri", Teodoro and Aldo Sciurti, Giancarlo Scorrano and Giuseppe Tamburrano.
It was the officer who made the first find at approximately 7pm on the evening of the 19th. Diving not far from the beach, Robusto immersed in the water at a point known as "la crocetta" (the little cross), this because there is a metal cross marking the area of "Punta del Serrone", an area close to the famous bathing beach known as "Punta Penna".
On the seabed, approximately 400 meters from the shoreline and at a depth of sixteen meters, Robusto caught a glimpse of a metal foot which was protruding from the sand; almost a re-enactment of a similar find some twenty years previously, when another metal foot was found in the same area.
The five divers went back some seven days later, when the north wind allowed them to immerse to once again to pursue their find.
This time they discovered more pieces, hands, heads, feet and also the first bronze statue. All the other two hundred pieces were subsequently recovered by specialized teams from the "Cooperativa Aquarius" and "GRAS" (Gruppo Ricerche Archeologiche Subacquee), which is the Underwater Archaeological Research Team. This all took place between the dates of the 6th of August and the 2nd of September, 1992, covering an area of 300 sqm.
Amongst these finds, the most interesting are:
- two male busts which are to human scale and date back to the age of the First Roman Empire;
- two bearded heads resembling philosophers which also date back to the age of the Roman Empire;
- the fragmented head of a man considered being that of the Emperor Caracalla;
- two female heads depicting fine workmanship and that of a young girl;
- many fragments of art, depicting limbs and drapery.
At the same time of the discovery, at the museum of Brindisi a laboratory for the treatment of these works of art was set up.

Recovery of the statue of the Roman citizen wearing a togaMany are the assumptions as to how these bronzes found their way to the bottom of the seabed off the coast of Brindisi about their origins and above all, their artistic quality and history.
Some historians stated that these could have been inferior quality works, destined for re-cycling at the foundry in Brindisi and discarded during a storm at sea so as to lighten the ship transporting them.
There is also talk of the famous works having been stolen from the Middle East, but there is no argument to sustain this.
There is no certainty as to their origin or the time of the wreck, neither any indication as to how they found their way to the bottom of the sea, no relics showing signs of a ship wreck nor any sunken cargo have been found.
It seems certain however that these works were cast between IV cent BC and III century AC.

The two busts which have already been treated and restored represent the Roman Council Lucio Emilio Paolo, hero of the Macedonian War in 168 AC. There is also a Roman citizen wearing a toga and both these are on exhibition in a hall in the Provincial Museum "Francesco Ribezzo" in "Piazza Duomo" together with photos and descriptions of the various stages of the recovery process.

During the process of restoration, one of the heads was matched to the torso of the Roman Council.
The lengthy process of restoration is being undertaken by the laboratory of preservation in Florence and the statues, "Bronzi di Punta del Serrone" will soon find their place in the new hall of the museum of Brindisi which is being purposely prepared.

Images (photo by Soprintendenza Beni Archeologici):
- The bust of the Roman Council Lucio Emilio Paolo
- Recovery of the statue of the Roman citizen wearing a toga

Fotogallery - clicca per ingrandire
Bibliography:
» Giuseppe Andreassi, Bronzi di Punta del Serrone: ricerche archeologiche subacquee a Brindisi nel 1992, suppl. a "Bollettino di Archeologia", Roma 1992
» Marcello Miccio, Il restauro del torso di Brindisi, 2004 (link)
» AA.VV., I Bronzi di Brindisi, in Suppl. Nuova Meridiana - ott. 1992
» Lionello Maci, Il Novecento, 2001

Web sites:
» Brindisi Bronzes by Province of Brindisi website (link)
» Sulla Rotta dei Bronzi - grandi statue (web link)
» The Brindisi Bronzes: Classical Castoffs Reclaimed from the Sea - by O. Louis Mazzatenta (link)

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