Italian Construction Unearths Marble Head of Augustus

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May 6, 2021

Archaeologists in Italy have discovered a marble head of Augustus dated to the time when the first emperor was ruling Rome.

Augustus marble head

While working to repair a medieval wall in the Molise town of Isernia, archaeologist Francesco Giancola found the 14-inch-tall head, which was likely part of a large statue depicting the young Octavian, adopted son of Julius Caesar who emerged from the ashes of the Second Triumvirate to become Augustus, beginning the Roman Empire. He went on to rule for a handful of decades and provided such stability that the Empire carried on relatively peacefully for nearly two centuries.

Archaeologists have discovered dozens of busts and statues of the famous Augustus through the years. Giancola and others on the team matched their discovery's face and hairstyle to others known depictions of Augustus to make their conclusion.

In ancient times, the area was Aesernia, where lived the Samnites, an earlier antagonist of the burgeoning Roman civilization. The two fought three wars in the 3rd Century B.C.; Rome won them all. The Samnites retook the town briefly in the 1st Century B.C.; but by Augustus's time, Rome had reasserted control.

Isernia's Santa Maria delle Monache museum has the marble head, and archaeologists are studying it in depth.

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