THE QUIET AFTER THE STORM – Reggio Calabria / Italy: the long wait of the Riace Bronzes

bronzipost1For some time now, the Riace Bronzes breathe the air of Italy, in the Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria. After a long journey and a storm of which the memory was lost, they look at you calmly, in a room that is equipped with a climate control system (held on 20 degrees during the winter and around 25 in the summer). The moisture content, inside that their room, is only 40%, ie such as to avoid new corrosion phenomena. Seeing them, you too will see that these ancient bronzes rise of earthquake-resistant foundation (as was the case for the ancient Greek statues).

Those bronze statues were discovered in the summer of 1972 by an Italian who had chosen the Calabria for his holidays. Two warriors, they slept at a depth of 8 meters, only 200 meters from the ground, in the Ionian sea frontage in Riace Marina. Until 1980, he repeated underwater archaeological surveys, made it possible to recover a few other finds, because the memory of that ill-fated ship – and the story of his shipwreck – everything was gone. A first restoration of the Riace Bronzes came to Florence, where the interior of the statue was cleaned from the melting ground that there had been imprisoned.

That incredible restoration operation, inquired about everything about that land, using a similar equipment to that used for medical diagnostics. The statue “A” was 198 cm high, the statue “B” one centimeter less. That restoration, aesthetic and conservative, had reduced to 160 kg the weight of each statue, eliminating about 240 kg of earth and concretions. The thickness of the two statues – their skin bronze – was 8.5 mm for the bronze “A” and of 7.5 mm for the other. Those two Bronzes, you can admire in the Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria (southern Italy), represent two completely naked men.

Almost certainly, on storage requirements on the ship, the shields that those warriors they carried with the right hand (as well as the spears that were holding with the left hand), had been stowed separately, but were lost in that sea, during a storm would soon subsided, while retaining, for each of us, the memory of an ancient drama, along with the extraordinary beauty of two Greek statues, almost intact. Yes, almost intact, because the statue “B” had preserved the memory of something that had happened in Roman times, when the forearm and shoulder of one of them had even then been restored.



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