Digging into the light brown dirt, archaeologists in the United Kingdom found themselves face-to-face with two ancient Roman sculpture heads. The massive stone carvings reveal more about Roman life along this far corner of the empire.
Excavations had just restarted at the Hadrian’s Wall archaeological site in Carlisle, England, the Cumberland Council said in a May 24 news release. Archaeologists and volunteers were excavating the ruins of a Roman-era bathhouse.
Two days in, they uncovered something “incredible,” Frank Giecco, the excavations lead archaeologist, said in a YouTube video from the Cumberland Council.
The team unearthed two “monumental” stone heads of ancient Roman sculptures, the release said.
Photos shared on Instagram by Stuart Walker show the sculpture heads sitting in wheelbarrows. One head has a dark brown-gray coloring and appears to be wearing a crown-like headpiece. The other is a light orange-brown color and appears to have braided hair.
The sculptures might be a Roman emperor and empress, archaeologists told Stuart Walker. The heads might also “belong to statues of Roman gods,” BBC reported.
Either way, the statues are “unique and priceless,” Giecco told BBC.
The heads are made of sandstone and about “three times the size of a human head” – indicating the complete sculptures might have reached 12 to 15 feet tall, BBC reported. The artifacts might date back as far as 200 A.D., the outlet reported.
“It’s the first sculpture found from the site and could be the find of a lifetime,” Giecco said in the release. “This truly shows the significance of the bathhouse and raises the site to a whole new level of importance with such monumental sculpture and adds to overall grandeur of the building.”
The bathhouse excavation site is the largest known building along Hadrian’s Wall, the release said.
Two amazing large Roman sculptures carved from sandstone have been uncovered at the Roman Bath House archaeological dig at Carlisle Cricket Club. Experts initially think that they could be of Emperor Septimus Severus and Emperoress Julia Domna pic.twitter.com/lDrEOHI8j5
— Stuart Walker (@StuWalkerPhotos) May 24, 2023
Hadrian’s Wall was the northernmost edge of the ancient Roman empire, according to an article from the Cumberland Council. The fortified site was occupied from around 72 A.D. to the fifth century. Now, the site is “the best known and the best preserved frontier of the Roman Empire,” officials said.
The bathhouse structure has revealed the luxuriousness of ancient Roman life, the release said. Dozens of carved gemstones, likely lost by bathers, have been uncovered. Archaeologists also found tiles with the imperial stamp of approval at the thermal baths.
Excavations at the Carlisle site will continue until June 24, the release said.
Carlisle is about 100 miles south of Edinburgh, Scotland.