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1,800-Year-Old Roman Eagle Sculpture Found By Archaeologists in London | The Raw Story

Society & Culture  (tags: Roman, London, archeology, RomanBritain, RomanLondon, Romaneagle, Romansculpture, RomanArt, tombsculpture )

- 1664 days ago -
A superb Roman eagle in near pristine condition, serpent prey still wriggling in its beak, has been found by archaeologists in the City of London. A symbol of immortality and power, it was carefully preserved when the aristocratic tomb it decorated was

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Barbara T (431)
Tuesday October 29, 2013, 1:44 pm
Note: There is no accompanying picture of the Roman sculpture. The Eagle sculpture illustrating the article, is NOT the sculpture that was found.
The sculpture found, is of an Eagle AND a serpent - the Eagle in the illustration, there's no serpent there. It's an entirely different Eagle.

Barbara T (431)
Tuesday October 29, 2013, 1:46 pm
A superb Roman eagle in near pristine condition, serpent prey still wriggling in its beak, has been found by archaeologists in the City of London. A symbol of immortality and power, it was carefully preserved when the aristocratic tomb it decorated was smashed up more than 1,800 years ago – and is regarded as one of the best pieces of Romano-British art ever found.

The preservation is so startling that the archaeologists who found it a few weeks ago at the bottom of a ditch, on the last day of an excavation on a development site at the Minories, were worried in case they had unearthed a Victorian garden ornament.

Excitement spread as it became clear from the context that it really was Roman – but carved in Britain, from Cotswold limestone. Archaeologists are itching to research it further but first after a quick clean – and a frame to support the only damage, a broken wing – it is going on display for six months at the Museum of London, just 30 days from ditch to gallery.

Martin Henig, an internationally renowned expert on Roman art, said: “The sculpture is of exceptional quality, the finest sculpture by a Romano-British artist ever found in London, and amongst the very best statues surviving from Roman Britain. Its condition is extraordinary, as crisp as on the day it was carved. All it has lost is the surface paint, probably washed away when it was deposited in a ditch.”

Barbara T (431)
Tuesday October 29, 2013, 1:52 pm
Eagles are found across the empire, usually as symbols of imperial clout, but they were also used as funerary emblems: there are extraordinary contemporary accounts of live eagles trapped within the funeral pyres of emperors, freed to soar towards the sky as the flames crackled, symbolising the moment when the dead man became a god.

The London eagle was carved in the first century AD, at a time when the Roman city was exploding in population and wealth. It is believed to have stood on an imposing mausoleum, on the roadside edge of the eastern cemetery just outside the city walls. The road was once lined with the monuments of the wealthiest citizens, like the Via Appia outside Rome.
...... Michael Marshall, finds expert at Museum of London Archaeology, believes that a superstitious awe probably protected such a powerful religious symbol, even when the tomb of its original owner became builders’ rubble.

There it lay for almost 2,000 years, surviving in almost pristine condition while Tudor cellars, Victorian warehouses and 20th century concrete piling punched through the earth all around it, until the Monday morning last month – the last day of the excavation before a 16-storey hotel is built on the site.

Serpents could be either benevolent symbols or harbingers of evil: some eagle and serpent carvings show the two beasts quite companionably entwined. There is nothing benevolent about the London serpent, carved wreathed around the bird, its tongue still flickering on the feathery chest, but the great beak is about to snap shut: “It’s all over for the snake – it just doesn’t know it yet,” Michael Marshall said.

The eagle’s triumph is greater because the snake is equipped with an alarming row of sharp teeth.

“This may suggest that the artist had never got up close and personal with a snake,” Marshall said. “We did have a go at identifying the species of snake when we had some zoologists in – but they just said ‘it’s a snake’.”

Alan L (91)
Tuesday October 29, 2013, 3:17 pm
In a previous life I saluted the Roman Eagle. So these stories always fascinate me.

Barbara T (431)
Tuesday October 29, 2013, 3:21 pm
Eagle-and-Serpent, is also a symbol on the MEXICAN flag, as you may know...

Sheila D (194)
Tuesday October 29, 2013, 6:49 pm
Wow, that's looks as thought it's just been carved. Most pics I've seen of these types of eagles were like the article said, missing body parts. Great find. Thanks.

Barbara T (431)
Tuesday October 29, 2013, 8:43 pm
Hey, GGma, that eagle in the picture is NOT the eagle that was found!
Too bad there is NO picture available, on the Internet, of the found Eagle!

The Eagle that was found, was pictured with a SERPENT in its claws.
The Eagle in the picture, has, like the American Eagle symbol, LIGHTNING in its claws!
Two totally different Eagles!
The Eagle that was found, was of English limestone, and one wing was broken. {Altho the entire thing was found.}
It would've looked very different!
Also, I would've LOVED to see that snake, which had TEETH in it!
Am dying for a REAL PICTURE to be published.....!

Yvonne W (229)
Wednesday October 30, 2013, 4:29 pm
Don't you just hate when an article only describes something, with no picture attached?! The internet is visual - why don't they USE it?! I love archaeology!:)

Barbara T (431)
Wednesday October 30, 2013, 5:01 pm
I suppose they have to have "authorization from the museum", or something, to post a picture.

They shoulda put RIGHT UNDER THE PICTURE, tho, that it was ANOTHER EAGLE - instead of way down at the bottom of the page, in tiny print!!!

Barbara T (431)
Thursday October 31, 2013, 12:54 am
Aha! HERE'S a Picture of the REAL EAGLE, with a snake in its mouth! [Can't see the teeth, tho, from this angle!]

Barbara T (431)
Thursday October 31, 2013, 12:59 am
Here's the LINK to the Care2 News Story, posted by Marty:

Yvonne W (229)
Thursday October 31, 2013, 1:08 pm
Thanks BMutiny!:) I wish it was a complete picture, but what I can see is Great!
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