Riace Warriors (460-420) BC

Michael Lahanas

Griechische Kunst: Die Riace Krieger (Heroen)

Rhegium (Reggio di Calabria)

The two Greek Riace Bronze warriors from the sea off coast of southern Italy (Calabria) near the village of Riace were found in August 1972. Probably due to a storm they were thrown from a ship that was near Calabria. No remains of the ships were found to my knowledge. They were produced shortly after the Greek revolution in sculpture Art. We have the transition from the archaic to the early classic period (severe style). Probably both were initially in Delphi.


The first Riace warrior (Bronze or Statue A) probably an Athenian (460-450) BC (Larger Image)

The second Riace warrior with a helmet (Bronze B or Statue B). Possible a Corinthian.(430-420)BC (Larger Image)

Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia, Italy Calabria, Map from Space

A large fraction of ancient sculptures are bronze sculptures. Only a small fraction survived today because often if metal was needed for weapons many sculptures were molten and due to corrosion. The Greeks developed around 550 BC the technique to build large sculptures from bronze that are hollow inside. It would be too costly and too difficult to handle compact bronze pieces. Their weight was smaller than sculptures from marble. This helped some sculptures to survive. Trading vessels transporting bronze sculptures sometimes sunk during a storm in the Mediterranean. The bronze statues were covered by a thick mud at the sea floor that preserved the metal and reduced corrosion, as happened also with the two Riace bronze warriors.

An example of how a bronze sculpture looks found in the sea. The Apoxyomenos in Croatia

The directly frontal rigid, "at attention" pose of the archaic sculpture (Metropolitan Museum Kouros) has been replaced by a composition in which the weight is concentrated on one leg leaving the other bent with a slight rotation in the torso.

A rear view of the “warriors”!


Riace Warriors Stamps from Italy (from Latein Education Highway, Austria)

Science Show Interview with Robyn Williams
Konstam's discoveries On Ancient GreekBronze Techniques
The Techniques of Bronze Statuary in Ancient Greece

The Bronzes of Riace

Paraleipomena

The dates of the warriors are based on stylistic elements. There are some who believe that the sculptures were produced a few centuries later.

Modern reconstructions of the warriors, images taken from a Riace Ristorante website (visit the Ristorante also to see the sculptures)

Amore Greco: The erotic adventures of the Riace Warrior A

From an Abstract

Richard Ralley, Centre for Studies in the Social Sciences, Edge Hill, UK. The Riace bronzes: Evolutionary principles applied to popular visual aesthetics: The Riace bronzes are ... genuinely a popular cultural phenomenon. Early reports indicated aesthetic and sexual impact of the statues. Heterosexual women were said to be attracted to the figure in the more aggressive stance. Diamond (1997) hypothesizes that aggressive male characteristics have evolved such that these have become visual signals for females. In experiments, the statues are shown from behind(hiding facial features). Up to 86% of females prefer the assertive figure. (28th International Congress of Psychology August 8-13, 2004, Beijing, China)

  • J. Alsop, "Warriors From A Watery Grave," National Geographic 163 820-827 (1983).
  • Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, "The Riace Bronzes: A Minority Viewpoint," In Borelli and Pelagatti 313-326 (1984).
  • Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway , Fifth Century Styles in Greek Sculpture, Princeton University Press, Princeton (1981).
  • B. Cohen, "Kresilas' Perikles and the Riace Bronzes: New Evidence for Schinokephaly," AJA 90 207-208 (1986).

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