The Bronzi di Riace (Italian for "Riace bronzes") are two famous full-size Greek bronzes of nude bearded warriors, cast about 460-430 BCE and currently housed by the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria, Italy. The Riace Warriors are respectively termed "A" and "B", where Riace Warrior A is thought to be a depiction of a younger man than that of Riace Warrior B. They were found by Stefano Mariottini, a chemist from Rome, on a scuba diving vacation at Monasterace, on August 16, 1972, perhaps at the site of a shipwreck, off the coast of Riace, near Reggio Calabria. They are major additions to the surviving examples of ancient Greek sculpture: most Greek sculpture is known through later Roman copies in marble. The statues' eyes are inlaid with bone and glass, while the teeth are in silver and lips and nipples are in copper. Formerly they held spears and shields. Additionally, Riace Warrior B once wore a helmet pushed up atop his head, and it is thought that Riace Warrior A perhaps wore a wreath over his. The Bronzi, outstanding examples of ancient Greek sculpture, belong to a transitional period from archaic Greek sculpture to the early Classic style, disguising their idealized geometry and impossible anatomy (Spivey 2005) under a distracting and alluring "realistic" surface. There is no clear testimony in ancient literature to identify the athletes or heroes depicted by the bronzes. It seems likely that the nudes originally formed part of a votive group in a large sanctuary. It is conjectured that the bronze sculptures represent Tydeus and Amphiaraus, two warriors from the Seven Against Thebes monumental group in the polis of Argos, noted by Pausanias, or that they are Athenian warriors from Delphi, part of the monument to the battle of Marathon, or that they are from Olympia. All three were prominent Greek sites for dedicated sculpture of the highest quality, and all were vulnerable to official thefts after the Roman occupation. Perhaps the bronzes were being transported to Rome as booty when a storm overtook their ship, though no evidence of a wreck could be found. These bronzes are from the early Classical Period, made about 445 BCE. They are a fine example of contrapposto - the weight is on the back legs and is much more realistic than Archaic stances. The musculature is clear yet not incised and looks soft enough to be visible yet realistic. The turned head not only represents movement but also adds life to the sculptures. The asymmetrical layout of the arms and legs serves to add to the realism. A local original destination is not impossible. Further explorations undertaken by a joint Italian-American team in 2004, have identified the foundations of an Ionic temple on this slowly subsiding coast. Undersea explorations by robotic vehicles along the submerged coastline from Locri to Soverato are providing a more detailed picture of this coast in Antiquity, though no further "Riace bronzes" have been found. Attributions of such spectacular works of art to famous sculptors have followed traditional lines: "all the 'big' names of Classical times have been proposed in this connection," Brunilde Sismondo Ridgeway has written, but she finds it encouraging that at least a few scholars are willing to consider a non-Attic, even a 'colonial' workshop of origin, as contrasted with "the dominant Athenocentrism of previous years." While it is certain that they are original works of the highest quality, it has also been argued that their torsos have been produced from a single model, which was then altered with direct modifications to the wax before casting, and that they may be seen as types. The Bronzi di Riace emerged from conservation in 1981; their exhibition in Florence and Rome was the cultural event of the year in Italy, providing covers for numerous magazines (Gemelli). They have been commemorated in a pair of postage stamps issued by Italy, and, in another sure sign that they have joined the canon of Greek sculpture, they are widely reproduced. After a recent reorganization, they are displayed in the museum basement among other nautical recoveries, in anti-seismic supports.
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