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Bronzi di Riace
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Heritage and Culture
The Bronzes

I BronziThe “Bronzi di Riace”, original Greek sculptures of great importance, were recovered by chance on the 16th of August 1972 in the waters of Riace Marina, 200m from the coast and at a depth of 8m. Following this the seabed there was analysed by stratification (1973) and by prospect (1981), which brought to light 28 lead rings which belonged to the sails of an ancient ship, a fragment of keel which can be attributed to Roman to Byzantine age and the handle of the shield held by “Bronze A”.
Following the first acts of conservation, undertaken by the “Superintendent to Antiquity”  the statues were completely restored by experts in Florence at the “Opifico delle Piertre Dure di Firenze” (1975-1980).  After being exhibited in the archeology museum of Florence (1980-1981) and following that in the museum “Capitolini” in Rome (1981), the statues are since 1981 in permanent exhibition in the National Museum of the Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria, where they have underwent further restoration between 1992 and 1995.
The technique used for the creation of the “Bronzi” was to weld the separete parts together: the head,  torace, arms and legs (distinct in three sections, hands, legs, feet and toes).

From a style point of view, the two statues are developed using the same “chasim” style (the right leg supports all the body weight which corrisponds to the left arm which gives support to the shield) and the art of compensation (the left leg flexes whcih corrisponds to the left arms which holds the spear). They may have been created to be exhibited together with others in group or in alternative the they could have been created as stand alones in a Greek sanctury.  It is not to discount the theory that the two statues find themseleves together by chance only at the moment of thier sea transport.
Certain scholars (G. Dontas) think that, even though there are differences, both statues can be attributed to the same period, around the mid 5th century BC and also the same environment,  presumably ancient Greece.  Others (A. Di Vits) underline the differences, attributing to the 460 BC “Bronze A”, which is closely linked to the Mirone style and instead for “Bronze B” 430 BC already influenced by ancient sculpture.
To postion its creation  in Greece, recently, based on the results of land fusion analysis, more accurately in the possible location of production namely Argo. A proposal made (P. Moreno) regarding the similarities to a “donario” built in this centre of the Penopolese shows the Seven of Thebes, heros that attack the city of Thebes and remaining defeated and all dying : Bronze "A" would be Tideo and “Bronze B” Anfiarao and their creators Agelada and Alcamene.
For their postion in the Magna Grecia, one hypothisis (S.Stucci) is that we are looking at a statue of an Olympic champion from Locri called Euthymos of Locri, three time winner of boxing; Bronze "B" instead created by Pitagora of Reggio little after 470 BC could represent the athlete after beating the monster Temesa.  Bronze A instead the work of a megalithan artist, dated little before 435 BC of the althele who becomes a hero following his death. 

Bronzo "A"
The “Bronze A” is 1.98m tall and is characterised for the multiple materials used for the creation of the anatomical detail: the eyeballs are in ivory (the pupils, not conserved, were presumably created in glass or with precious stones), the lips are in copper, the five teeth of the upper jaw are made from modelled laminated silver. The nipples are made of an alloy with a low quantity of tin, that gives them a particular slight pink hue.
The head was originally conceived without the helmet, as demonstrates and accurate line of the hair over the whole sphere and under the band that holds it in place. On the top of the head we can find a hole drilled presumably to hold a Meniskos (this is a bronze pivot which served to keep birds away from the statue). Later, in any case, a  Corinthian helmet was placed, as seen by the signs of placement visible on the nape and the sides, other than the transformation of the original square hole made for the helmet itself. On that occasion the well defined ears, were covered by locks of hair.
Bronzo "B"
Also the “Bronzo B”, which is 1.97m tall, is characterised for the multiple materials used for the creation of the anatomical details; the right eye (the only one remaining) has the cornea created using white stone and iris in bicoloured rings (white and pink) and a black pupil.  The lips are in copper and the nipples are made of alloy with a low percentage of tin which gives them a particular slight pink hue.  The sculpture shows signs of repair: the right arm and left forearm show repairs made using an alloy with a high percentage of lead according to the typical usage of the Hellenistic and Roman age. 

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