Statue of Apollo “Lizard Killer” found at Etruscan and Roman spa

Archaeologists have found a marble statue of Apollo Sauroctonos, also known as the “Lizard Killer”, during excavations of an Etruscan and Roman spa at San Casciano dei Bagni in Tuscany.

The spa is fed by geothermal springs, which the Etruscans used to supply water at a mean temperature of 42 °C (108 °F) to the complex of Balnea Clusinae.

According to legend, the site was founded by Porsenna, an Etruscan king of Chiusi, although archaeologists suggest that the complex was built by the Etruscans in the third century BC.

During the Roman period, the spa became a popular attraction for the therapeutic benefits, with notable figures such as Caesar Augustus being a frequent visitor.

- Advertisement -
Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Archaeologists have found fragments of a life-sized Apollo Sauroctonos statue on the edge of the Great Bath, which are Roman copies of a bronze statue created by the Greek sculptor Praxiteles, the most renowned of the Attica sculptors of the 4th century BC.

Example copies generally date from the 1st to 2nd century AD and depict Apollo in his youth about to catch a lizard climbing up a tree. The Roman poet, Martial, wrote an epigram about the Apollo Sauroctonos statues “Spare the lizard, treacherous boy, creeping toward you; it desires to perish by your hands.”

Apollo, revered as the deity associated with healing and ailments, received votive offerings from petitioners seeking remedies for their afflictions. Additionally, the depiction of Apollo hunting a lizard can be associated with ophthalmology, as lizards were considered a key ingredient for curing eye complaints.

Excavations also uncovered a travertine votive altar with a bilingual inscription in Latin and Etruscan from the 1st century AD, indicating the ongoing influence of Etruscan culture well into the Roman Imperial Era.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

- Advertisement -

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Ring discovery suggests a previously unknown princely family in Southwest Jutland

A ring discovered in Southwest Jutland, Denmark, suggests a previously unknown princely family who had strong connections with the rulers of France.

Submerged evidence of rice cultivation and slavery found in North Carolina

Researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) are using side-scan sonar and positioning systems to find evidence of rice cultivation and slavery beneath the depths of North Carolina’s lower Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers.

Study reveals oldest and longest example of Vasconic script

A new study of the 2100-year-old Hand of Irulegi has revealed the oldest and longest example of Vasconic script.

Archaeologists excavate the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä

Archaeologists have excavated the marginalised community of Vaakunakylä, a former Nazi barracks occupied by homeless Finns following the end of WW2.

Archaeologists find 4,000-year-old cobra-shaped ceramic handle

A team of archaeologists from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan have uncovered a 4,000-year-old cobra-shaped ceramic handle in the Guanyin District of Taoyuan City.

Traces of Khan al-Tujjar caravanserais found at foot of Mount Tabor

During excavations near Beit Keshet in Lower Galilee, Israel, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered traces of a market within the historic Khan al-Tujjar caravanserais.

Traces of marketplace from Viking Age found on Klosterøy

Archaeologists from the University of Stavanger have announced the possible discovery of a Viking Age marketplace on the island of Klosterøy in southwestern Norway.

Fragments of Qin and Han Dynasty bamboo slips found in ancient well

Archaeologists have uncovered over 200 fragments of bamboo slips from the Qin and Han Dynasty during excavations in Changsha, China.