Divers Recover Ancient Bust of Julius Caeser
A bust of Julius Caesar found in a trove of Roman artefacts by divers in the River Rhone is the oldest ever discovered, French ministers say.
The life-sized bust showing the Roman ruler with wrinkles and hollows in his face is tentatively dated to 46 BC – just two years before Caesar was assassinated.
Divers, trained in archaeology, uncovered the imperial bust and a collection of other finds in the Rhone near the town of Arles, formally turned into a Roman military colony by Caesar.
“This marble bust of the founder of the Roman city of Arles constitutes the most ancient representation known today of Caesar,” the culture ministry said, adding that it “undoubtedly” dates to the creation of Arles in 46 BC.
Among other items in the treasure trove of ancient objects is a 5ft 11in marble statue of Neptune, dated to about 210 AD.
Two smaller statues were also found, both in bronze and measuring 27.5in. One shows a satyr – a man with goats’ legs considered a symbol of licentious pleasure – with his hands tied behind his back and “doubtless” originates in Hellenic Greece, the culture ministry said.
Of the discoveries “some are unique in Europe”, Culture Minister Christine Albanel said.
Experts are now trying to understand why the treasures were thrown into the river.
The site “has barely been skimmed,” said Michel L’Hour, chief of France’s Department of Subaquatic Archaeological Research, whose divers made the discovery between September and October last year.
A new search operation will begin this summer, he added.
He said the Arles region of Provence, a hotbed of Roman activities, was “propitious” for discoveries.