Statue of Augustus Pulled from German River

Fragments of a bronze statue of the Roman emperor Augustus on horseback only the second known equestrian statue of Augustus in existence – have been found in a river near the German town of Giessen, about 40km north of Frankfurt-am-Main. The statue is thought to date back 2,000 years and the discovery has been announced by the science ministry of Hessen state.

According to a statement from the science ministry, reported in The Local, this is the most well preserved Roman artefact of quality to be found in Germany to date.

The discovery took place on August 12, when a team of archaeologists and scientists from the University of Jena lifted a life-sized gilded horse’s head and the emperor’s bronze shoe from a stream. This is part of an ongoing excavation at the site, which was once a Roman outpost in region of Germania Magna. As many as 20,000 artefacts have so far been found at the site.

Augustus ruled as Rome’s first emperor between 27 BC and 14 AD and was in the last five years of his rule (aged 72) when the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, which took place near Osnabrck in northern Germany, killed over 20,000 Roman soldiers from three Roman legions. The battle was a devastating blow for the Roman army in 9 AD and is thought to have been a pivotal event that deterred Roman expansion into Germanic areas of northern Europe. A century later the Romans kept their northern border close to the Rhine and the Danube and few inroads were made northwards.

Experts from the University of Jena have surmised that the statue may have been destroyed by Roman soldiers who were retreating from the scene of the Teutoburg battle they would have destroyed everything that they could not take with them as they withdrew from that area.

For more photos of the discovery, go to this page at Germany’s Spiegel Online.

Photos by the science ministry of Hessen and Jrgen Bahlo (RGK/DAI).