Archaeologists unearth 2000-year-old marble head of Augustus Caesar

The 2,000-year-old head of Rome's first emperor, Augustus Caesar, was recently uncovered by archaeologists in Isernia, Italy. Francesco Giancola made the remarkable discovery during restoration on a medieval wall that collapsed in 2013.

"While we were digging behind the wall, I saw that the earth changed color," he said.

"So we continued digging with precision trowels and a block of marble has come out. I immediately saw that it was a head that I recognized as belonging to a statue of Augustus due to the hair and the shape and cut of the eyes."

Giancola said he immediately called the authorities, the mayor, and the cultural heritage ministry.

via CNN

According to Maria Diletta Colombo, an archaeologist at the regional department of the ministry, the 35-centimeter-tall head can be dated back to between 20 BC and 10 AD.

"It was an important statue, but we do not know why it was here," she told CNN. "It could have been placed in a temple dedicated to the cult of the imperial family, or in the forum. But these are just hypotheses, since we don't know where the forum was."

Some of her colleagues cried with joy when they made the discovery, Colombo added, and it was a moment she said she will remember forever.

via CNN

The head was mostly likely originally attached to a statue that would have been over 2 meters tall and made of Lunigiana marble, the same kind used by Michelangelo, and depicts Augustus as a young man.

Isernia, where the head was found, was originally called Aesernia and home to an Italic people called the Samnites. Later, it became a Roman colony before being partially destroyed during (then rebuilt after) World War II.

Along with the head, the excavation also revealed empty tombs and artifacts. The head is currently being studied, but both Colombo and the mayor of Isernia want it to stay in the town's museum, Santa Maria delle Monache.

"Isernia has a very ancient history… there are archaeological remains underneath the whole city," the town's mayor Giacomo D'Apollonio told CNN. "It is a very important find for Isernia because it demonstrates the presence of buildings of a certain importance."

"Even Isernia, although it is not among the main tourist destinations, is an area rich in history since the Palaeolithic [era]," said D'Apollonio.

via CNN