Exceptionally well-preserved statue found in Heraclea Sintica

A team of archaeologists, led by Dr. Lyudmil Vagalinski from the National Archaeological Museum, have uncovered an exceptionally well-preserved statue in the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica.

Heraclea Sintica was founded by Philip II of Macedon between 356 and 339 BC in the Pirin Macedonia region of southwestern Bulgaria.

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An earthquake in AD 425 largely destroyed the city, causing the collapse of the civic basilica and most of the major infrastructure. Following the disaster, the city went into rapid decline and was mostly abandoned by around AD 500.

The ruins were identified as Heraclea Sintica in 2002, after the discovery of a Latin inscription that documents correspondence between Emperor Galerius and Caesar Maximinus II.

Recent excavations, documented by Archaeologia Bulgarica, revealed the discovery of a well-preserved marble sculpture in the Cloaca Maxima, the Roman sewage system.

Image Credit : Archaeologia Bulgarica

According to the researchers, the sculpture stands more than two metres tall and might be a depiction of Hermes, a deity and herald of the gods in the Ancient Greek pantheon. In the Roman pantheon, Mercury is considered the counterpart to Hermes, as both gods share similar characteristics and associations.

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The archaeologists suggest that the statue was placed in the sewer around the time of the great earthquake, possibly to preserve one of their ancient deities, or perhaps as a symbolic rejection of pagan beliefs, as Christianity was already the official religion.

Dr. Lyudmil Vagalinski emphasised the importance of the discovery, not just for being the best preserved statue found at Heraclea Sintica from antiquity, but possibly all of Bulgaria.

Header Image Credit : Archaeologia Bulgarica

Sources : Archaeologia Bulgarica

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 8,000 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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