Hermitage Days - 2010
9 December 2010, on St George’s Day, an exhibition of one item Roman Two-Headed Eagle was opened at the State Hermitage.
The exhibition is held within the framework of the Year of Russia-Spain 2011 under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture of Russia.
In spring of 2005, in the course of excavations of the Roman city of Lucentum, a unique fragment of a bronze sculpture was found.
The discovery of Spanish archaeologists presents an arm holding a sword’s handle with a finial in the form of head of a two-headed eagle. A ring finger has a ring with an image of stick of peculiar form which was used by Roman augurs* as a sign of their priestly origin. A fragment of the statue is currently kept at the Alicante Archaeological Museum.
Ruins of the ancient city of Lucentum are located on a hill, 3.5 km to
the north-east of the historical center of Alicante city (Valencian Autonomous
region, Spain), on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Ancient Lucentum
was founded in the 4th century B. C. Late 3rd century B. C., i.e. the
period of domination of Carthage in the south of the Iberian Peninsula,
saw its rapid growth. The city was destroyed during the 2nd Punic War
The statue to which a bronze arm belonged was put up at the city forum in the 1st or early 2nd century A. D. Apparently, it was identified with some Roman emperor or his relatives from dynasties of Juliuses-Claudiuses, Flaviuses or first Antoninuses.
The statue fragment presented at the exhibition was discovered at the north-west gates of the Roman forum, in a layer of fire dated the 3rd century A. D. It is unknown whether the statue was put up al fresco or it stood in one of the city’s temples or public buildings.
The Roman man of nobility captured in bronze held a short sword of peculiar form in a sheath, an attribute of military leaders and heroes of the ancient world. An image of a two-headed eagle used in the decoration of the finial of this weapon was not observed in the art of Ancient Greece and Rome earlier. Having emerged in ancient civilizations of the Middle East, it was widely spread as a heraldic emblem throughout the Middle Ages.
It is one of the first images of a two-headed eagle which currently adorns the coat-of-arms of the Russian Federation.
The exhibition curator is Dmitry Chistov, research associate of the Ancient World Department of the State Hermitage.
*Augurs are members of the Roman honorary priestly collegiate which was committed to official state fortune-telling to predict outcomes of certain events based on a number of natural signs and animal behavior.
© Государственный Эрмитаж,