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November 24, 2020

Talk to the Hand

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[Three marble fingers and a portion of an elbow of the lost statue of Hercules, at an estimated 40 feet high among the largest marble statues ever to have existed.]

From Atlas Obscura:

Towering over Amman, Jordan's modern skyline is the Temple of Hercules, located at the peak of a hillside in one of the ancient city's oldest quadrants. 

Constructed between 162-166 CE during Marcus Aurelius's Roman occupation of Amman's Citadel, the great temple is larger than any in Rome itself.

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[Ruins of the Temple of Hercules]

Its portico faces east and is surrounded by six 33-foot tall columns.

Measuring 100 feet long by 85 feet wide, with an outer sanctum of 400 by 236 feet, the fact that the rest of the temple remained unadorned by columns suggests to scholars that the structure was never completed, for reasons history has yet to reveal. 

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[Archaeologists' and historians' reimagining of the Temple of Hercules.]

 
But the ones that did exist were huge — albeit ambiguous.
 
From just three gigantic fingers, one elbow, and a scattering of coins, archaeologists have agreed these marble body parts likely belonged to a massive statue of Hercules himself.
 
Therefore, the theory goes, the temple also must have been dedicated to the half-god known for his feats of strength and far-ranging adventures. 

Likely toppled during one of the area's periodic catastrophic earthquakes, the statue fell to bits, but unlike the temple, all except the hand and elbow disappeared.

As one guide put it, "The rest of Hercules became Amman’s countertops." 

Experts' best guess is that, in its original state, the statue would have measured upwards of 40 feet high, which would have placed it among the largest known marble statues to have ever existed.

November 24, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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