The Vatican’s largest ancient statue is undergoing restoration, the AP reported. The 4-meter-tall gilded Hercules is believed to have stood in Pompeii’s theater in ancient Rome.
Restorers in the Vatican Museum’s Round Hall are removing centuries of dirt from the gilded Hercules.
For more than 150 years, the statue, 4 meters high, has been placed in a niche. It does not attract attention among other antique exhibits because of the dark color it has acquired over time.
After removing a layer of wax and other materials from a 19th-century restoration, Vatican experts understood its true value.
The gold plating is extremely well preserved, said restorer Alice Baltera. The statue is cast in bronze. It was discovered in 1864 in a villa near the “Campo dei Fiori” in Rome. Pope Pius IX added the work to the papal collection.
It is dated between the 1st and 3rd centuries. To distinguish its later origin, it bears “family” names: that of the Pope – Mastai, and that of the banker in whose villa it was found – Righetti.
The statue is accompanied by a marble plaque with the inscription FCS – an abbreviation of the Latin phrase “fulgur conditum summanium” (“Here lies buried the thunderbolt of Sumanus”).
That means she was struck by lightning, said Claudia Valeri, curator of the Greek and Roman antiquities department at the Vatican Museum.
Sumanus was an ancient Roman deity of thunder. The Romans believed that any object struck by lightning was imbued with divine power.
Photo: Restorers work on the bronze statue of Hercules in the Round Hall of the Vatican Museums / AP