PHOTOS: Giant, Bulging-Eyed Roman Emperor Statue Found

Marcus Aurelius photo
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August 27, 2008—An "exquisitely carved" statue of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius—with heavy-lidded, bulging eyes and a feathery beard—has been discovered in western Turkey, archaeologists announced.

The Turkish and Belgian team were not entirely surprised to find the sculpture of the Roman leader and philosopher, who ruled from A.D. 161 to 180, in Roman-era baths in the ancient city of Sagalassos.

That's because a rich repository of artifacts from the second century A.D. had already been unearthed at the baths, including the 2007 discovery of a colossal statue of the emperor Hadrian.

An earthquake likely destroyed the wall recess containing the Aurelius statue, breaking up the 15-foot-tall (4.5-meter-tall) object into a head (top right) and limbs while shattering its terracotta or wooden torso, according to a statement by the Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project.

But Aurelius's army boots (left), carved to resemble lion skin and decorated with tendrils and military shields, were still intact, as was part of a globe clutched in his hand.

The carved lenses in his pupils, "an innovation of his reign," the archaeologists said, "make them gaze upward as if in deep contemplation, perfectly fitting to an emperor who was more of a philosopher than a soldier."

—Christine Dell'Amore

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