The Riace Warriors are two bronze statues of naked, bearded warriors that were found in the sea near Riace, a small town in southern Italy, in 1972. They are considered one of the finest examples of classical Greek sculpture, dating from the 5th century BC.
The statues are slightly larger than life-size, measuring about 2 meters (6 feet 6 inches) in height. They represent two warriors, one older and one younger, who may have been heroes or generals from Greek mythology or history. They are both wearing helmets and carrying shields, but their weapons are missing. They have realistic facial features, muscular bodies, and natural poses. Their eyes are made of bone and glass paste, while their teeth and lips are of silver and copper respectively.
The statues were made using the lost-wax casting technique, which involves making a clay model of the statue, covering it with wax, adding details and ornaments, and then covering it with another layer of clay. The clay mold is then heated, melting the wax and leaving a hollow space for the bronze to be poured in. After the bronze cools down, the clay mold is broken and removed, revealing the statue.
The statues were probably transported by ship from Greece to Italy sometime between the 1st and 2nd century BC, when the Romans looted many Greek artworks. They may have sunk during a storm or been thrown overboard to lighten the ship. They lay on the seabed for centuries until they were discovered by a diver named Stefano Mariottini in 1972. He noticed an arm sticking out of the sand and realized it belonged to a bronze statue. He then found another statue nearby and alerted the authorities.
The statues were carefully lifted from the sea and taken to Florence for restoration. They underwent several cleaning and conservation processes to remove encrustations and corrosion from their surfaces and interiors. They also had some missing parts restored, such as their nipples and toes. They were finally put on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria in 1981, where they have become a symbol of Calabria’s cultural heritage.
The Riace Warriors are a remarkable testimony of the artistic achievements of classical Greece. They show a high level of craftsmanship, realism, and expression that reflect the ideals of beauty, strength, and heroism that characterized Greek culture.