Archeology: “Aurige de Delphs” delivers its last secrets

A conference, held in Athens from December 1 to 3, revealed the results of an unprecedented scientific study program on one of the most famous statues in ancient Greece.

by Pierre Barthélémy

When asked about the Aurige of Delphi, a large bronze statue representing a Char, Sophie Descamps, Honorary Conservative of the Heritage at the Louvre Museum, has this categorical sentence: “It is one of the Mona Lisa from Greece. “A kind of metal equivalent of the Venus de Milo. And like the Mona Lisa in Paris, the Aurige is so assaulted by tourists at the Museum of Delphi that was devoted to a room. However, even if it is one of the most photographed statues in the world, even if its discovery, which dates back to spring 1896, dates from more than a century, this long tunic coachman and magnetic gaze kept until present many secrets on its origins. Secrets which have just been raised, on the occasion of a conference held in Athens, from Thursday 1 er to Saturday December 3, during which were revealed the Results of an unprecedented scientific study program.

In ancient Greece, “there were thousands of statues in public places, as we know by textual sources or by stone bases on which they were held, explains Sophie Descamps. But these works have for the ‘Essential disappeared. “Many bronzes, copper and tin alloys have been overhauled. Some, looted by the Romans, sank during their trip to Italy. Others finally were buried during cataclysms, such as the Delphi Aurige, probably the victim of a landslide during the great earthquake of 373 BC. AD, which also caused a tsunami. The coachman found himself underground with a few debris from his quadrige, as well as pieces of the four horses that pulled him.

In 1896, a mysterious child’s arm, perhaps that of a small palefrenier, and the base of the statue was also set out. His inscriptions made it possible to date the work, designed to celebrate the victory of the Charzalos tank – a prince of Gela, in Sicily – during the Pythic Games which were held in Delphi. “The” Aurige “group had to be created between 470 and 466 BC, specifies Sophie Descamps. Thanks to this, we have a testimony to what the Greek bronzers knew at that time.” This beginning of a e century before our era sees a real technical maturation occurring, both in the art of cast iron with lost wax as in that of welding, borrowed from Egyptians. Because a statue like Aurige is a fairly incredible assembly whose welds are, essentially, invisible to the naked eye, which makes Sophie Descamps say that “its author was a virtuoso because it is so amazing”.

You have 68.41% of this article to read. The continuation is reserved for subscribers.

/Media reports cited above.