Passions & Places

Bronzi di Cartoceto

I bronzi di Cartoceto 
(La famiglia imperiale di Tiberio -
I secolo d.C.)

What a surprise must have been for the man who saw a sparkling light arousing from the earth he was cultivating. He must have dismounted from his agricultural vehicle and have used his hands as a spade to exhume this precious treasure. 

The earth had in fact preserved for centuries an equestrian group of bronze statues covered in golden leaf dating back to the Roman time. 

The treasure was found in 1946 in the countryside of Santa Lucia di Calamello, just a short way from Cartoceto (near Pergamo). 

The statues were surprisingly well preserved. Archaeologists say that the four bodies (two men on horses and two women at their side) could represent members of the imperial family of Tiberio (I century AD). Legend had that the emperor had chased away these four people and had so probably ordered for the statues to be destroyed. 

A strong evidence towards this hypothesis is the fact that the statues has come to us missing some parts even though the gold leaf that covers them is almost intact. Above this it is meaningful the fact that the bronzes have been found in a place where no Roman ruins are known to be. It is also evident that the sculptures portrait noble people. 

The best preserved statue is the one of a knight (maybe Nerone Cesare) that on the back of a richly decorated horse, dressed in military uniform is portrayed with a risen arm, typical Roman salutation. The second knight (probably Druso) is portrayed in the same position, but just parts of it have come to us. 

The same for the statues portraying the two women. The one showing the figure of a woman, no more young (probably Augustus’ wife, Tiberio’s mother) is the one best preserved. 

The woman wears a golden ring symbol of her belonging to the Equestrian Order (ordine equestre). Just the inferior part of the other statue, that probably represents Agrippina, Druso’s mother, has come to us. 

The horses are majestic in their posture. Their bodies are richly adorned and the reins are enriched with metal plates on which figures of roman divinities are engraved. 

After being restored the bronzes were contended between the National Archaeological Museum in Ancona and the Museum of Pergola. Anyway Ancona had to be satisfied with copies of the only bronze statues covered in golden leaf that has come to us from the Roman times.

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