L'«idoletto di bronzo con occhi d'argento». La lunga storia dell'Ercole ebbro di Veleia tra scavi, collezionismo e archeometria
In: Archeologia Classica: 72, 2021
This paper reviews the historical, archaeological and antiquarian vicissitudes of one of the most interesting bronze artefacts preserved in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Parma, Italy. The
statuette is the renowned ‘Drunken Herakles’ (Hercules bibax)
found in July 1760 in the site of
Veleia, on the Apennines near Piacenza, Italy.
The cultural and historical background of this finding is a sort of prestige competition between the Duke of Parma and his brother, king of Naples and Sicily, patron of the sensational archaeological discoveries of the Vesuvian area (Pompeii, Herculaneum etc.).
The Drunken Herakles find in Veleia sparked further research in the site and in 1761 twelve marble statues were found near the basilica of the forum. These artefacts, mainly ascribed to the Julio-Claudian times, are still considered among the most relevant sculptural cycles of the Imperial period.
However, from the 1960s the Herakles was seen as a 18th century forgery, mostly because of its style and because of the incompleteness of archival research. In the previous pages issues of style will be seen in the light cast by recent archival findings, while archaeometric and photogrammetric data will be added.
This will delete once and for all any allegation of forgery.
Keywords: Drunken Herakles, Cisalpine Gaul, antiquities, archaeometry, photogrammetry