Science

Eight-foot statue of Roman emperor Hadrian discovered in pieces nearly 2,000 years after it fell


Larger than life marble statue of Roman emperor Hadrian that stood 8ft tall nearly 2,000 years ago is discovered in pieces at a site in Turkey

  • Six fragments of the marble statue have been found on the site of  Alabanda, an ancient city in Turkey’s western Aydin province
  • They include part of the Roman emperor’s head and body, found in the parliament building 
  • Experts believe the sculpture was brought to Alabanda in 120 AD in honor of a visit by Hadrian
  • When completed the statue will be displayed at the Aydın Archaeology Museum










Archaeologists in Turkey have uncovered fragments of a larger-than-life marble statue of famed Roman emperor Roman Emperor Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus believe to date back some 1,900 years.

The pieces were found in different locations during excavations of a parliament building on the site of the ancient city of Alabanda, in Turkey’s western Aydin province.

Experts believe the sculpture was brought to Alabanda in 120 AD in honor of a visit by Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, who was also known as Hadrian.

To date, six segments of the statue have been found—including parts of its head and body—and It’s believed that the intact figure stood more than eight feet tall.

Archaeologists are continuing to find the other parts of the statue, which will eventually be displayed at the Aydın Archaeology Museum.

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Archaeologists in west Turkey have uncovered fragments of a larger-than-life marble statue of famed Roman emperor Hadrian believe to date back some 1,900 years

Archaeologists in west Turkey have uncovered fragments of a larger-than-life marble statue of famed Roman emperor Hadrian believe to date back some 1,900 years

Alabanda, located on an area of about 1,235 acres in modern-day Çine, is believed to be one of the largest ancient cities in Anatolia, a large peninsula in Western Asia that constitutes the majority of modern-day Turkey.

During the reign of Hadrian, between 117 and 138 AD, Anatolia was under Roman control and the emperor is believed to have visited often.

‘We think that there is an inscription of honor next to this statue, which we think was made for the arrival of Hadrian,’ Umut Tuncer, Aydın Provincial Culture and Tourism Director, told Hurriyet Daily News.

Ali Yalçın, an archaeologist at Tavukçu Erzurum Atatürk University, began excavations in the region in 2015.

Hadrian is known to have visited Anatolia frequently and archaeologists believe the statue was brought to Alabanda in 120 AD in honor of such a visit.  At least six segments of the eight-foot statue have been located in the parliament building in Alabanda, to be one of the largest cities in Anatolia

Excavations began excavations in the region in 2015.Hadrian is known to have visited Anatolia frequently and archaeologists believe the statue was brought to Alabanda, one of the largest cities in Anatolia, in 120 AD in honor of such a visit

At least six segments of the eight-foot statue have been located in the parliament building in Alabanda. When it is complete it will go on dispaly at the Ayd¿n Archaeology Museum

At least six segments of the eight-foot statue have been located in the parliament building in Alabanda. When it is complete it will go on dispaly at the Aydın Archaeology Museum

‘Last year, we accelerated the work in the billiardium [council building], which is one of the three important sections here,’ Tavukçu told the outlet.

‘This year we found fragments of the armored emperor statue, which we call ‘portrait sculpture.’

The parliament building where the fragments were located is one of the largest in Anatolia, according to Tuncer.

‘We care about exhibiting the artifacts on their site,’ he added. ‘When the statue is completed in the next few seasons, we will probably see many visitors here thanks to this statue, which is rare in the world.’

Hadrian’s reign started under a cloud, when leading senators who opposed his succession were put to death. 

The Senate held him responsible and disapproved of his abandoning the expansionist policies of his predecessor, Trajan, in favor of shoring up borders and unifying the empire’s diverse peoples.

He is perhaps best known for building Hadrian’s Wall, which marked the northern limit of the Roman Empire, and rebuilding the Pantheon in Rome.

Hadrian also built the majestic Villa Adriana in Tivoli, whose ruins are now a UNESCO world heritage site, and ordered the construction of the Temple of Venus and Roma, the largest temple in ancient Rome.

Hadrian’s marriage to Vibia Sabina is considered loveless and bore no children. His passionate relationship with the Greek youth Antinous, though, led the emperor to establish a widespread cult in the young man’s honor when he was killed shortly before his 20th birthday.

WHAT IS HADRIAN’S WALL?

For around three centuries, Hadrian’s Wall was a vibrant, multi-cultured frontier sprawling 80 Roman miles (73 miles) coast-to-coast.

Permanent conquest of Britain began in AD 43. By about AD 100 the northernmost army units in Britain lay along the Tyne–Solway isthmus. 

Stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian's Wall was built to guard the northwest frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain

Stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian’s Wall was built to guard the northwest frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain

The forts here were linked by a road, now known as the Stanegate, between Corbridge and Carlisle. 

Hadrian came to Britain in AD 122 and, according to a biography written 200 years later, ‘put many things to right and was the first to build a wall 80 miles long from sea to sea to separate the barbarians from the Romans’. 

Hadrian’s Wall became the north-west frontier of the Roman empire and crossed northern Britain from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west.

Built by a force of 15,000 men in under six years, it’s comprised of Milecastles, barracks, ramparts and forts. 

Among these are the forts of Banna, now known as Birdoswald, the town of Corbridge and the auxiliary fort of Vindolanda, to the south of the wall.

Hadrian’s Wall resisted all comers in its day and defended an empire that stretched from Britain in the west to Jordan in the east.

Although mainly built by legionaries, the Wall was manned by auxiliaries. They were organised into regiments nominally either 500 or 1,000 strong and either infantry or cavalry or both. 

The 500-strong mixed infantry and cavalry unit was the workhorse of the frontier. Each fort on the Wall appears to have been built to hold a single auxiliary unit. 

Hadrian’s Wall was made a World Heritage Site in 1987.  



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