Archaeologists have unearthed a marble figurine they say dates back to the second or third century C.E. during an excavation in Jerusalem's City of David.
The marble bust of a bearded man's head was discovered during the excavations that the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the Givati car park in the walls around Jerusalem National Park.
Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, directors of the excavation at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that the figurine's short curly beard and head tilted to the right is indicative of Greek influence and can be dated to the time of the emperor Hadrian or shortly thereafter (second-third centuries C.E.).
According to Ben-Ami and Tchekhanovets, "The high level of finish on the figurine is extraordinary, while meticulously adhering to the tiniest of details."
They added that the pale-yellow shade of the marble may point to the eastern origin of the raw material from which the image was carved, but they are still verifying that matter.
The figure's stylistic motifs, such as its short hair style, the prominent lobes and curves of the ears, as well as the almond-shaped eyes, suggest that the object most likely portrays an athlete, probably a boxer.
Boxing was one of the most popular fields of heavy athletics in Roman culture and more than once Roman authors mention the demand by the Roman public in general, and the elite in particular, for boxing matches.
"To the best of our knowledge, to date no similar artifact made of marble (or any other kind of stone) bearing the same image that was just found has been discovered in excavations elsewhere in the country," said Ben-Ami and Tchekhanovets. "It seems that what we have here is a unique find."
Not long ago, a collection of 264 gold coins was also uncovered at the same site.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now