Bronzes of Riace are a pair of Greek statues of V  century; a., that expose in the national Museum of the Great Regal Greece of of Calabria . They are two of the few bronze examples that are of the old, together Greek art for example, Poseidón of the National archaeological Museum of Athens, or Auriga de Delphi . They were found in the neighborhoods of the locality of Riace, in the Regal province of of Calabria in 1972 .


The 16 of August of 1972, an become fond of submariner, Stefano Mariottini, Roman chemical young person, was diving to about 8 meters of depth and a distance of the coast of about 300 meters, persecuting a mere one, when it discovered what it seemed an extremity emerging from the marine bottom. Scared and thinking that it had found a corpse human, it warned its two companions. Finally account occurred of which what saw it corresponded to the right arm of which soon she was well-known as statue B. To its side own Stefano found one second statue. Warned the authorities, the two figures finally were reclaimed by the carbineers submariners of Messina . A plastic ball was used to which it filled up of oxygen. With this apparatus day 20 of August emerged to the surface statue B on the following day and the statue To, after a first unfruitful attempt with this last one.

The following year an equipment to the control of the investigator Young Lamboglia tried to find pecio of the boat that would have transported the sculptures, but after several attempts only were 28 metallic hoops, probably pertaining to the sails of a ship, as well as a fragment than it could be the grip of statue A. A hypothesis aims at that the crew of the supposed ship could as much have thrown overboard the two sculptures as rest of the equipment, on the occasion of some storm, being shipwrecked later the boat in another place, or reaching finally the coast. Other studies realized by Brown Paolo, professor of Archeology and Historia of the Greek and Roman Art of the university of Rome have contributed other data. The appearance of some rest of wood than could be a Roman ship of imperial time, and the fact that the two figures were found little distance (done this that hardly would have happened in case they had been thrown voluntarily) they cause that the hypothesis of the launching by the hut staggers.


During the first interventions realized by the technicians of national Museum of Great Regal Greece of of Calabria became the excellent invoice evident of the two figures, and the suspicions that aimed at that were confirmed they were two magnificent units of V  century; a.

They were registered with numbers 12801 and 12802, and a patient work of loosening of the rest of shells was begun and calcareous concretions that had adhered to the bronze surface throughout the many centuries last in I milk marine. To the month of its discovery, and with the publication of the first slides, the scientific community was conscious of the importance of the finding. Immediately they realized of which with the average limited ones on which it was counted it was impossible to realize a complete restoration, being decided its transfer to Florence . In January of 1975 the two statues were in charge of Francesco Nicosia, superintendent of the archaeological goods of Tuscan, in the famous factory of the Offizio delle pietre lasts. After five years of restoration in which diverse techniques were used, like ultrasounds, treatments of benzotriazole in located areas, gamma Rays and X-rays (that detected an internal problem of oxidation), the statues exhibited in Archaeological Museum of Florence first, and later in Rome, being transferred later to their definitive location. Principle of the Nineties they were observed the appearance of numerous phenomena of degradation that advised the transfer of the figures to Florence to be drained again completely of the rest that in their interior were fruit of the smelting process, the call land of fusion. The corresponding one to bronze B was identified like originating of Athens of century V, whereas the one of the bronze To came from Argus. After a treatment anticorrosion the statues again were transferred to their habitual residence, where they are exposed in the great room, put under a constant temperature of 21-23 degrees and a constant humidity of 40- 50%.


The studies have determined that the two figures were realized following the method called of direct fusion, a difficult method in which does not fit the error, since once the bronze is spilled the previous mud model it destroys. This technique consisted of making one first figure of mud with the form of the object to realize. Later it was covered with a fine wax layer (of a thickness that varies of the 7 to the 8 millimeters in the case of the statues of Riace) that, it was cover as well on the other mud layer, or another refractory material in which several orifices practiced. The fused metal, bronze generally, were spill by one or several holes (water throughs) located in the part superior, and the alloy was moving to the wax that left by one or more orifices inferiors. Once cooled all the set, the outer mud layer was broken, being the final bronze. With a pointed element the original nucleus was also broken to take step to the finished piece. Nevertheless dice the size of many of the figures, was normal that important amounts of mud were imprisoned inside the bronze, as it happened both in the case of soldiers of Riace, which has allowed to the investigators their analysis to be able to determine with major or minor exactitude their origin. Once secured the bronze piece concientiously was reviewed it, to adjust, with the maximum fidelity, to which the artist had shaped in the first mud sculpture. In this work the water throughs were cut reviewed the flaws that could have arisen during the smelting. Also the holes lazy by the water throughs knit, and the pieces were united that formed the total work with a thread of the same used alloy. After this, the work was smoothed by means of a species of sandpapering of the surface, polished and polished by rubbed finísimo, until the pore of the bronze was completely unified. Later it was come you slide to give them, in order to color the metal.

In the case of bronzes of Riace, for example, the two figures are open under the feet, so that when being raised the figures these holes were hidden. The restauradores found inside works around a quintal of the original mud.

Besides Bronze, in the manufacture of the sculptures was used other metals: Silver for the teeth of the statue To, and for the eyelashes of both sculptures, Ivory for the river basin of the eyes and Cobre in the lips and the nipples

Analysis of the statues

In spite of the similarities, the study reveals remarkable differences between the two statues. They are attributed to two different artists, although controversy exists about if they would be work of artists of a same factory or if, however, were realized in different times. Both are modeled with a remarkable muscular elasticity, becoming patents each one of the sinews, veins, and other own particularitities of the human anatomy. On the basis of stylistic determinations, those that think that they are works of different times have indicated that statue A (the young person), of 1,98 meters of height, could be realized towards the year 460  a., in the call severe Period while bronze B (the old man), of two meters of height, would have been realized in 430  a. The bronze To appears more nervous and vital whereas his companion appears more relaxed and barren. The two statues pass on a sensation of power thanks to the position of the arms, separated of vigorous form of the body. While the left arm in both seems to have maintained a shield, the right would have had a weapon originally. The head of statue B is modeled of a somewhat peculiar, empequeñecida way, which suggests could have carried a helmet, probably one of the type Corintio in which the head would have gone fitted.

The right arm of statue B and the left forearm on which it went hooked the shield had realized in a fusion different from the one from the rest of the statue. They were welded at a later time replacing the original arms, either to correct some suffered damage when estatia or was exposed or to modify the position of the arms in order to adapt the statue for a use different from the initial for which it had been conceived.

Identity of the personages and possible responsibility

  • At first one thought about that, Beaver and Pólux could be a representation of Dioscuros (also called Polideuces ), children of Zeus and Leda, wife of Tíndaro, and been born from individual eggs. These heroes are protagonists of several mythological episodes, between which excels its participation in the trip of Argonautas. Nevertheless, the evident difference of age between both figures rejects this hypothesis, since far from to seem brother not even, the age that they pretend is the same, since while the soldier To represents an age between 25-30 years, soldier B approaches the group of forty.
  • the professor Enrico Paribeni thinks that they could represent Áyax both that appears in the Iliad : Áyax Great, son of Telamón, king of Salamina, and Áyax the Minor, son of Oileo . In the Iliad one describes to Áyax great like a soldier of great stature and colossal force. Áyax the minor, son of Oileo, king of Lócride, was one of the aqueos that were within Trojan horse . According to Homero, these two soldiers fought together in War of Troy, at least until first he drove crazy because of a misunderstanding and the life took off.

  • Another hypothesis maintains that could be the representation of two winning athletes in some discipline of Olympic Games. In the neighborhoods of Reggio de Calabria so existed a factory of estatuaria in charge of Pitágoras de Regio, assets enters the 490 440  a. del that consists that in the year 480  a. realized a sculpture of a winner of Olympic Games . This sculptor was famous for being able to represent anatomical particularitities such as the hair and the veins.
  • Pausanias, a Greek writer of Century II, and author of a description of old Greece, makes reference in his work to several sculptural groups between which she has been to identify these statues:

- In ágora of Argus mentions a monument to the seven against Tebas . This sculpture consisted of fifteen figures, being able to be the two of them corresponding ones to bronzes of Riace. This thesis aims to identify to the statue To with Tideo, the hero etolio, and to statue B with Anfiarao, soldier prophet who predicted his own death under the walls of the city of Tebas . Tideo would be work of a called sculptor Agéladas, original of Argus, and who worked in the sanctuary of Delphi in second half of the V  century; a. The archeologist Geòrghios Dontàs has identified to the author of Anfiarao with the figure of Alcámenes, original of Lemnos and attractive with the athenian citizenship by virtue of his he was worth artistic.

- In Delphi, describes to a group given to Fidias that commemorated Batalla de Maratón and that was made up of Athenian, Apolo, Milcíades and other athenian heroes. The position of the two sculptures, shutdowns, supported in the right leg while the left rests a little advanced and slightly flexionada makes remember to the work Apolo de Karsel, that assumes copy of original of Fidias, reason why is reinforced the hypothesis that somewhat these two bronzes would be work of Fidias

- In Olimpia, describes a group of statues that represented Greek heroes of the war of Troy. The group was given Onatas, a sculptor of Egina . Also east group like alternative hypothesis of the identification of bronzes of Riace has been indicated

Importance of the discovery

The vision that we have at present of the Greek art somewhat is distorted per years and years of contemplation of the naked marble, and that has come to conform a clasicismo idea that would surprise the own authors who when they realized those magnificent temples, they strave in painting with blue and red brilliants all its components. Also they did with the sculptures, that are policromaban almost in their totality. We are too customary to the contemplation of the naked marble to be able to include/understand the taste that the artists had by the more or less profuse decoration.

In addition, the majority of the works that have arrived until us is not but Roman marble copies, of original in bronze. Some author has indicated of somewhat metaphorical form that a form becomes denaturalized as much when happening from a matter to another one (bronze to marble) as a poetic work when it is translated to another language. Positions that in the metal do not offer any problem of balance for the statue, or which they are possible to be solved by means of the addition of internal counterbalances, to the being transferred to the stone do that the addition becomes necessary of different supports, translated in way of containers, trunks of tree or affairs, back-to-back to the figure with major or minor fortune. The different historical events caused that the great majority of those statues was fused to take advantage of the metal (in the gunmaking for example), and thus, the examples of sculptures in the noble metal are escasísimos.

It is for that reason that the finding of the pair of Riace supposed everything an event, and that both " guerreros" they would enter to comprise of that handful of original examples, between which it is possible to emphasize, without a doubt the magnificent Auriga de Delphi, or the Poseidón of the Museum of Athens. These little but most valuable examples allow us to enter us in the direct study of the Greek sculpture as they were devised by his authors, without the mediation forced by their transfer to the marble.

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