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  • You are in: Home » musei » ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM - Reggio Calabria

ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM - Reggio Calabria

ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM - Reggio Calabria

The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Reggio Calabria holds a wealth of finds from Magna Grecia, crowned by the famous Bronzi di Riace, two bronze statues that were hauled up off the Ionian coast near Riace in 1972 and are among the world's best examples of ancient Greek sculpture. There was pressure for the statues to go to Rome, but Calabria won in the end.

The two elegant and finely-finished Bronzi di Riace (Riace bronzes) are full-size Greek bronzes of young nude bearded warriors, cast about 460 BC - 430 BC and found 1972, perhaps at the site of a shipwreck, off the coast of Riace, near Reggio Calabria. They are major additions to the surviving examples of Greek sculpture. Their eyes are inlaid with bone and glass, and they have silver teeth and copper lips and nipples. Formerly they held spears and shields. They represent the transition from Archaic Greek sculpture to the early Classic style, disguising their idealized geometry and impossible anatomy under a distracting and alluring "realistic" surface.

There is no clear testimony in ancient literature to identify the athletes or heroes these bronzes depict. It seems likely that the nudes originally formed part of a votive group in a large sanctuary. It is conjectured that the bronze sculptures represent Tydeus and Amphiaraus, two warriors from the Seven Against Thebes monumental group in the polis of Argos, noted by Pausanias, or that they are Athenian warriors from Delphi, part of the monument to the battle of Marathon, or that they are from Olympia. All three were prominent Greek sites for dedicated sculpture of the highest quality, and all were vulnerable to official thefts after the Roman occupation. Perhaps the Riace Warriors were being transported to Rome as booty when a storm overtook their ship, though no evidence of a wreck could be found.

A local original destination is not impossible. Further explorations undertaken by a joint Italian-American team in 2004, have identified the foundations of an Ionic temple on this slowly subsiding coast. Undersea explorations by robotic vehicles along the submerged coastline from Locri to Soverato are providing a more detailed picture of this coast in Antiquity, though no further "Riace bronzes" have been found. The Bronzi di Riace are kept in the National Museum of Magna Grecia at Reggio Calabria. They have been commemorated in a pair of postage stamps issued by Italy, and, in another sure sign that they have joined the canon of Greek sculpture, they are widely reproduced.

 
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