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Wednesday, April 22 • 2:45pm - 3:05pm
The Riace Bronze Warriors: Understanding Their Exceptional Form, Problematic Discovery, and Indistinct Provenience

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In August of 1972, two life-like ancient bronze statues were pulled from the seafloor off the coast of the southern Italian region of Calabria. Since the discovery of the Riace Bronzes, as they are now known, there has been much scholarly debate surrounding their manufacture, provenience, form, and, above all, the circumstances of their deposition at sea. Through exploration of the statues’ characteristics in comparison to other known sculptures of the ancient world, scholars place the creation of these pieces in the early Classical Greek context (480-450 BCE). This paper reviews the scholarly debate and argues for an association with the workshop of the famous 5th century sculptor Phidias. It also suggests that the military presentation of the statues strongly indicates their original inclusion within a larger group of sculptures formerly situated in a commemorative monument at Delphi. This paper’s approach to resolving their unknown past involves an examination of what little physical evidence exists in their discovery, as well as the lack of evidence with respect to their transport and former physical situation. Further research offers a premise for the reason for their oversea transport, which is Roman imperialism and conquest. By connecting and synthesizing historical texts and modern scholarship, this paper uses archaeological methodology as a means to resolve many of the problematic aspects surrounding the bronzes, from creation and original context to their ancient loss and subsequent discovery.

Wednesday April 22, 2015 2:45pm - 3:05pm PDT
237 Owen Hall