Archaeologists from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki discovered a 2,000-year-old statue depicting the legendary hero Hercules during excavations in the ancient city of Philippi.

Philippi was an important Greek city located north of the present-day city of Kavala in northern Greece.

The city was originally called Crenides after it was founded by Thasian colonists in 360/359 BC. near the head of the Aegean Sea, at the foot of Mount Orbelos, he writes HeritageDaily.

In 356 BC the city was conquered by King Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great), who renamed it Philippi, emerging as an important gold mining center for the Kingdom of Macedonia and in the Roman period.

Hercules, famous for his superhuman strength

Philippi was probably abandoned in the 14th century after the Ottoman conquest, as noted in the texts of the French traveler Pierre Belon, who describes a state of disrepair in the 1540s, with the city being mined for stone by the Turks.

During excavations carried out by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, researchers discovered a statue from the 2nd century AD. which depicts the legendary hero Hercules.

Hercules is the Roman equivalent of the Greek divine hero Heracles, son of Jupiter and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his superhuman strength and was seen as a champion of the weak and a great protector.

The statue was found on the eastern side of one of the city’s main streets, which at this point meets another main thoroughfare running further north.

Where was the statue found?

The point of convergence of the two streets is formed by a widening (a square) dominated by a richly decorated building and a fountain.

Although fragmented, researchers believe the statue once adorned a building dated to the late Byzantine period, in the 8th or 9th century AD.

Ministry of Culture of Greece comments that in Constantinople, statues from the Classical and Roman periods would often have adorned buildings and public spaces until the end of the Byzantine period.

Intact, the statue would have held various objects: a crown, a lion skin and a club, all of which are traditional signifiers associated with the Greco-Roman hero.

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