Magnificent Ancient Statue Painstakingly Restored After Discovery in Turkey

The statue depicts Roman Empire leader Trajan
Jessica Miley

An impressive ancient statue has been discovered under a well in the ancient Turkish city of Laodicea. Archeologists working at the site have painstakingly reconstructed the 3-meter tall statue from hundreds of pieces excavated from the site. 

Revered Leader Likeness Captured

The imposing statue depicts Trajan, a famed Roman emperor who led the empire out to its furthest extents. The excavation work was led by archaeologist Celal Şimşek from Pamukkale University. 


It is estimated the statue is exactly 1,906-years old. Trajan stands with his right arm raised and is dressed in full military regalia, including decorated body armor, and a short chiton (the Roman equivalent of a Scottish kilt), and a cloth hangs over his left arm. In addition to Trajan, the sculpture shows an enemy soldier cowering underneath the military leader, looking up with his hands bound behind his back. The statue was completed in 113 AD, just four years before the emperor’s death. 

Empire Pushed to Geographical Limits

Trajan held power for 19 years from 98 to 117 AD. The hard-working leader maintained his soldierly duties and expanded the Roman Empire to its largest limits. A geographical area that included much of Europe, North Africa, and some of the Middle East, including Mesopotamia (now Iraq). As well as extending the empire, Trajan was known for big contribution to civil engineering like building aqueducts, bridges, and harbors. 

Laodicea was an important town for the empire as it was located on an important trade route. The city became very prosperous due to its strategic position. This wealth was demonstrated when an earthquake destroyed the city in 60 A.D., and the cities residents were able to rebuild the city in opulent style from their own funds. 

Earthquake Proved No Match For Wealthy Town

Wealthy citizens competed to build theaters, baths, temples, a stadium and myriad other public buildings and works of art. The empire allowed the city to be autonomous and self-governing. It is thought that it was the earthquake that caused the destruction of the statue originally and that its crushed remains were buried underneath the fountain where it once stood.

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The statue has many distinct decorations in good conditions that archeologists can study. “On the upper part of the armor, there is the thunder of Jupiter, the celestial god of thunder, explains Şimşek. Medusa is located right in the middle of the chest, which is important because it shows the emperor’s frightening side. There are two reciprocal griffons [a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion], which are the symbol of the god Apollo." 

"We see Apollo as the god that protected the fine arts. With this, what...comes to mind is that the emperor did protect fine arts at his time,” he continues. In the same dig, archeologists found an inscription of the Roman Water Law. This important document outlined the rules and penalties related to the use of fresh water at the time.

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