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Unexpected discovery from ancient Roman sewers

Jul 10, 2024

Sofia [Bulgaria], July 10: The 2-meter-tall statue was accidentally unearthed in the area that used to be the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica, southwestern Bulgaria. The statue depicts the Greek god Hermes and is relatively intact, missing only part of its right hand, The New York Times reported on July 9.
Archaeologists say that after an earthquake devastated the city in 388, the statue was placed in an underground sewer system and covered with soil, explaining why it was largely undamaged. The team discovered the statue on July 5.
"It's a miracle that it still exists," said Dr Lyudmil Vagalinski, who led the archaeological team.
This is seen as evidence that the people of the ancient city wanted to preserve their own religious values ​​​​before the spread of Christianity, especially after Roman Emperor Theodosius 1 declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
Sewers during this period were often shelters for pagans, trying to protect the monumental statues from Christian fanatics, who sometimes wanted to destroy the statues of pagan gods. Anything considered pagan was strictly forbidden.
After the earthquake, the sewer systems were damaged and neglected. The city of Heraclea Sintica was abandoned around 500. "Although many people do not think the sewers are a suitable place, at least the statue would not have been damaged," said Martin Henig, an expert on Roman art at the University of Oxford.
Last year, workers in Rome (Italy) also discovered a marble statue in the underground sewer system.
Dr Lyudmil Vagalinski said he would carefully analyze the statue and determine its age, before displaying it at the local history museum.
Source: Thanh Nien Newspaper