One of the 24 bronze statues of the Roman Etruscan age discovered in San Casciano dei Bagni, near Siena, Italy. The statues depict gods, matrons, children and emperors. Protected for 2,300 years by the mud and boiling water of the sacred tanks, the votive deposit has re-emerged from the excavations in Tuscany. Photo courtesy of Italian Ministry of Culture/ANSA/EPA-EFE
Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Archaeologists in Italy have discovered more than 20 bronze statues dating back over 2,000 years, which could help rewrite a part of history, Italy's cultural ministry confirmed Tuesday.
The 24 Etruscan figures were discovered inside an ancient Tuscan Thermal spring in San Casciano die Bagni, about 100 miles north of Rome, the ministry said in a statement.
The partially submerged statues are remarkably well-preserved and could change how historians and researchers view Italy's transition into the Roman Empire.
"What has re-emerged from the mud at San Casciano dei Bagni is a unique opportunity to rewrite the history of ancient art and with it the history of the passage between the Etruscans and Romans in Tuscany," excavation lead Jacopo Tabolli said in a statement.
Etruscan culture flourished in what is now Italy until it was absorbed into Roman civilization around 400 B.C. But historians have lots of questions about the society as a whole, which left no historical documents behind, leaving their graves to provide insight into the civilization.
The Etruscans lived mostly in the central regions of Tuscany and Umbria for 500 years before the arrival of the Roman Republic.
Three of the figures are over 3 feet tall. All are representations of Roman mythological figures, including Apollo and Hygieia. Italy's cultural ministry said the statues were offered to the sacred water.
Excavation started at the site in 2019 and the statues were first discovered last month. Archaeologists also found around 5,000 gold, silver and bronze coins at the same time.
"It is certainly one of the most significant discoveries of bronzes in the history of the ancient Mediterranean," Massimo Osanna, the director general of museums at the Italian culture ministry, told the Italian news agency Ansa.