Archaeologists from Aristotle University discovered a statue of the Greek and Roman demi-god Hercules. And this Hercules statue is in remarkably good shape, considering that it’s nearly 2,000 years old. Hercules is known for his super-strength, and it appears the trait applies to statues of him as well. We know that ancient sculptors usually depicted Hercules with a club and a lion skin cloak. Though the statue is in pieces, the team of professors and students found each one of these specific elements. And this helped them identify the ancient artifact as a statue of Hercules.
We learned about the find on DesignTAXI. According to a press release from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, the team found the statue amongst the ruins of a building that dates back to the 8th or 9th century. The Hercules statue itself was likely already hundreds of years old. This provides insights into how people in that era decorated important buildings. An interview in USA Today reveals that statues like this offer important context into those who lived at the time. For instance, this statue of Hercules likely was not merely decorative. Instead, it may have served as a signifier of power for his owners.
The team from Aristotle University is excavating areas of the ancient Greek city of Philippi. The city was once part of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Archaeologists still find statues of Roman gods that are thousands of years old throughout modern-day cities that were once within the bounds of the empire. But statues like this one of Hercules even show up much farther afield. One marble bust bought in a Texas thrift store turned out to be a valuable artifact from ancient Rome.
Other recent sightings of Hercules include Brett Goldstein’s cameo in the Thor: Love and Thunder mid-credits scene. Only time will tell if the son of Zeus will return for more time in the MCU. Meanwhile, Guy Ritchie will direct a live-action movie based on Disney’s animated classic. It remains to be seen how something described as an experimental musical inspired by TikTok will go. And whether live-action Hercules can stand the test of time as well as ancient Hercules statues can.
Originally published October 3, 2022.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.