Equestrian Statue of Augustus — Followup

This just in … the Local seems to be the first off the mark with reports of the news conference mentioned in our previous post on this:

Hessian Science Minister Eva Kühne-Hörmann on Thursday presented fragments of a 2,000-year-old bronze equestrian statue of Roman Emperor Augustus found recently in a stream near Giessen.

“The find has meaning beyond Hesse and the north Alpine region due to its quality and provenance,” Kühne-Hörmann said during the presentation with state archaeologist Dr. Egon Schallmayer and Director of the Roman-German Commission Dr. Friedrich Lüth.

“We’ve rediscovered the remnants of early European history. The unique horse head is a witness to the broken dream of the Romans to create a united Europe under their rule,” she added.

On August 12, archaeologists pulled the gold-gilded, life-sized head of a horse and a shoe of the emperor – who ruled the Roman Empire between 23 BC and 14 AD – from a stream in what was once the Roman outpost Germania Magna. Experts there have uncovered several bits – including a horse hoof and a decorated chest strap – from the statue among some 20,000 artefacts uncovered at the site in recent years.

Scientists from the University of Jena believe it may have been destroyed by Roman soldiers retreating after the legendary Varusschlacht, or the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, when Germanic tribes ambushed and wiped out three Roman legions. As the remaining Roman troops retreated after the devastating defeat, they destroyed most of what they could not take with them.

The horse’s bridle is embellished with images of the Roman god of war Mars and the goddess Victoria, who personified victory.

Restoration and examination of more than 100 statue fragments is underway in Hessen’s state archaeology workshop.

There’s a nice photo accompanying the article:

The Local

The Local

There’s a little slideshow as well, but it is mostly images of this horse’s head from various angles (there is a photo of the hoof too) …

The photos from the various German-language sources are pretty much the same and as far as I can tell, all are repeating the line mentioned previously that the scholars believe Roman soldiers dumped this in the stream while retreating vel simm.. I continue to see a problem with that — it seems to make more sense to suggest that the victorious Germani dumped it in the river. I also continue to wonder why they are connecting this statue specifically with Augustus … it does make sense, given the apparent date and the like, but I see nothing from these pieces that suggests a positive Augustus connection. Why not Tiberius? Or maybe even Drusus?

From the German-language press:

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3 thoughts on “Equestrian Statue of Augustus — Followup

  1. Niels Grotum says:

    From the Allgemeine (linked above):

    Nicht die sich zurückziehenden Römer, sondern die Germanen haben nach Einschätzung der Archäologen vermutlich das Reiterstandbild zerstört und den Kopf im Brunnen versenkt. „Eine solche Statue war in der Antike ein Sinnbild dafür, dass der Kaiser selbst anwesend ist“, erläuterte Schallmayer. Die Germanen hätten den Kopf rituell in Brunnen versenkt, um eigene Götter zu besänftigen, ergänzte Friedrich Lüth von der Römisch-Germanischen-Kommission in Frankfurt. „Die Römer hätten die Statue doch mitgenommen, wenn sie genügend Zeit gehabt hätten.“

  2. rogueclassicist says:

    hmmm … missed that; the Standard seems to say similar right at the end. I wonder if it will be corrected in the other coverage …

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