Emperor Constantine Towers Over Rome Once More

Replica of an ancient statue, recreated from original fragments, is unveiled
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2024 8:56 AM CST
Emperor Constantine Towers Over Rome Once More
Visitors admire a massive, nearly 43-foot replica of the statue of Roman Emperor Constantine commissioned for himself after 312 AD as it was unveiled in Rome, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

An imposing statue of the 4th-century Roman Emperor Constantine, which had broken apart in the 1,700 years since its creation, has been resurrected. A replica of the original statue, standing some 43 feet tall, was publicly unveiled Tuesday in the gardens of Rome's Capitoline Museums, "just around the corner from the museum courtyard where the original fragments of Constantine's giant feet, hands and head are prime tourist attractions," per the AP. The Madrid-based art group Factum Foundation created the replica using those very remains, most of which were discovered in a building near the Colosseum in 1486, per the New York Times. They were later connected to Constantine, who converted to Christianity and helped spread the religion throughout the known world.

Factum Foundation used high-resolution photogrammetry to capture precise detail in nine fragments: two hands, two feet, a knee and shin, two biceps, a partial chest, and the "massive head, complete with a Roman nose and cleft chin," per AFP. It then created cast replicas and employed modeling technology to recreate the missing parts, using a statue of the emperor Claudius as a model. "Working rather like forensic scientists ... we were able to build back something that is absolutely awe inspiring," Factum Foundation founder Adam Lowe tells the Times. Indeed, the statue of a seated emperor, draped in a cloak and holding a scepter and orb, "inspires awe in the smaller viewers below—just as Constantine originally intended for his subjects," per the AP.

The statue fragments have been housed atop Capitoline Hill, site of the museums, since their discovery. But only recently did archaeologists connect and study the pieces, discovering that the statue commissioned by Constantine after 312 AD may have been adapted from an earlier statue of Jupiter, the Roman king of the gods, as it shows evidence of a past beard. There's some speculation that the Jupiter statue stood in the Temple of Jupiter, "the most important temple of ancient Rome," not far from the new statue's location, meaning this could be a homecoming of sorts, per the Times. The Constantine statue, recreated at an undisclosed cost, will remain in a side garden at the museums through 2025, with a final resting place to be determined. (More Rome stories.)

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