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Mystery of long-lost Colossus statue which would have towered over 42ft 1,700 years ago

Experts have reconstructed the gigantic Colossus of Constantine – a 42ft behemoth statue that would have towered over the Romans who built it more than 1,700 years ago.

The structure, which was left in several chunks for hundreds of years, was put together by archaeologists, using many of the original pieces earlier this year. 

It was displayed for all to see in the garden of Villa Caffarelli at the Capitoline Museums in Rome in February.

Claudio Parisi Presicce, Rome’s top official for cultural heritage, said following the unveiling: “The impression one has before this sculpture of the emperor elicits what must have been the sensation of his subjects before an imperial image.” 

The archaeologists reconstructed the monster statue using the original feet, a knee, a bicep, and an enormous 8ft head. The rest of the structure was made out of resin casts. 

The statue was of the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity – Constantine the Great. He commissioned it himself and it was completed in 315AD.

The head, arms, and legs of the statue were made out of white marble, while the body was made of wooden frame and brick core and may have been gilded in bronze.

The statue, which was kept in the Basilica of Maxentius, was pillaged at some time between the 3rd Century and the 7th or 8th Century.

However, in 1486 the marble pieces were rediscovered. Michelangelo placed the pieces in the city’s Palazzo dei Conservatori courtyard.

Although the Colossus is not the largest statue ever built – the bronze Colossus of Nero was almost 100ft tall – “it is the largest among those preserved,”  Parisi Presicce said.


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