In a remarkable archaeological find in decades, Etruscan and Roman statues were pulled from the mud in Tuscany in Italy with “the intuition” of a retired garbage man. After months of restoration, these statues were put on display at Quirinale Palace in Rome on June 22.
About two dozen bronze statues from the third century BC to the first century AD were extracted from the ruins of an ancient spa. The statues were found in 2021 and 2022 in the hilltop village of San Casciano dei Bagni, a place known for its thermal baths. Archaeologists had long suspected ancient ruins could be discovered at these ancient sites. When the discovery was announced in November, experts called it the biggest collection of ancient bronze statues ever found in the country.
Digging for the statues started in 2019 on a small plot of land next to the village’s Renaissance-era public baths, but nothing substantial could be recovered. Then, a former bin man and amateur local historian Stefano Petrini had an intuition, remembering that years earlier he had seen bits of ancient Roman columns on a wall on the other side of the public baths.
The columns could only be seen from an abandoned garden in San Casciano that had once belonged to his friend, who grew fruit and vegetables there to sell in the village shop. When Petrini took archaeologists there, they knew they had found the right spot.