A half-meter marble statue of Hercules, a hero of Greek and Roman mythology, has been unearthed in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Friday.
The IAA said the statue, from the second century A.D, is of “exceptional artistic quality” and was uncovered during excavations at Horvat Tarbenet, which was a Jewish settlement a century later.
“This is a rare discovery. The statue, which probably stood in a niche, was part of the decoration of a bathhouse pool that was exposed during the course of the excavations,” Dr. Walid Atrash of IAA said.
“Hercules is depicted in three dimensions, as a naked figure standing on a base. His bulging muscles stand out prominently, he is leaning on a club to his left, on the upper part of which hangs the skin of the Nemean lion, which according to Greek mythology Hercules slew as the first of his 12 labors.”
The excavation uncovered a well and an installation that included a large pool, which was probably part of a Roman bathhouse. Benches were found on two sides of the pools and a drainage channel that extended as far as the pool, Atrash said.
Archaeologists assume that the well and channel were meant to supply water for the pool.
“The complex apparently underwent a number of changes and it is dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods, until the beginning of the early Islamic period.”
Hercules, a son of the god Zeus, was one of the most famous heroes of ancient Greece, the strongest man in the world and a symbol of power, courage and superhuman strength.
Below are the pictures of the find displayed at an IAA building near Nahalal in northern Israel: