A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Etruscan temple sculptures are rare. Only a few examples are known in anything other than isolated and fragmentary condition: rooftop terra cottas from the site of Veii and fragmentary pediments from Pyrgi, Talamone, and Cività Alba are among the better known. Now there is another. In the Archaeological Museum of Chianciano Terme, north of Rome, are sculptures from a temple at a nearby site called I Fucoli. The sculptures were exposed by a landslide in 1986 and excavated by the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany under my direction. They were restored by Giuseppe Venturini of the Archaeological Museum of Chiusi and first displayed in Chianciano Terme last year.
Among the fragmentary terra cottas are a head of Herakles, a procession of sea monsters and other mythical figures, and a winged female genius (patron spirit of a person or place). Too little of the temple was found to permit a depiction of what it might have looked like, but based on the surviving sculptures the pediment was probably about 50 feet wide. In Etruria, Herakles in particular was venerated near salutary springs or springs where the future was told. That the temple of I Fucoli was related to a cult of springs seems logical given its proximity to one.
Anna Rastrelli is a director of the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany.
In 23 B.C. the poet Horace, suffering from inflamed eyes, sought out the advice of Antonius Musa, Augustus' personal physician. Musa advised his patient to take the waters at Clusium or Gabii, two spas that offered therapeutic cold-water baths, in contrast to hot springs like Baiae. Since the seventeenth century scholars have speculated that the fontes Clusini might have been in the modern-day spa town of Chianciano, nine miles northwest of Chiusi. In 1994, the University of Arizona began excavating in a park in the center of Chianciano. Over the next four years a rectangular bathing pool emerged, at 61 by 92 feet one of the largest ancient spa pools in Italy. Was this the healing spring of Musa and Horace? Though no inscription proclaims it, circumstantial evidence makes an attractive case. After Trajan, the vogue for cold-water bathing seems to have dissipated, and by the fourth century the structure lay in ruins.
David Soren is Regents' Professor of Classics at the University of Arizona. Frank Romer is an associate professor of classics at the University of Arizona.