S for Sculpture

A sideways shufty at Roman sculpture suggests things aren’t all they should be.

Shufty – The English form of shufti (arabic for look / take a look)


The Baths of Caracalla
This sideways shufty begins with the Baths of Caracalla.

The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy, were the city’s second largest Roman public baths, or thermae, likely built between AD 212 (or 211) and 216/217, during the reigns of emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla.


The Baths of Caracalla contained a “lavish assortment” of “high quality” sculptures.

The baths were originally ornamented with high quality sculptures, estimated to have numbered more than 120.

Despite their location in one of the city’s working class areas, of all the antique baths in Rome the Baths of Caracalla were found to have contained the most lavish assortment of statues.


Under the patronage of Pope Paul III [Alessandro Farnese] these sculptures were “excavated”.

Although many were destroyed in the Middle Ages to make lime, beginning in the 16th century under Pope Paul III Farnese, sculptures were excavated from the area to serve as decorations in newly built palazzi.


It’s reported the Farnese Hercules was one of the excavated “high quality” sculptures.

The baths were originally ornamented with high quality sculptures, estimated to have numbered more than 120.

Among the well-known pieces recovered from the Baths of Caracalla are the Farnese Bull (probably from the eastern palaestra) and Farnese Hercules (from the frigidarium), now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples; others are in the Museo di Capodimonte there.


The Farnese Hercules is an ancient statue of Hercules, probably an enlarged copy made in the early third century AD and signed by Glykon, who is otherwise unknown; the name is Greek but he may have worked in Rome.



This is where the fun begins.

“Like much Ancient Roman sculpture”, the Farnese Hercules is a copy of “a much older Greek original”.

Like much Ancient Roman sculpture it is a copy or version of a much older Greek original that was well-known, in this case an original by Lysippos (or one of his circle) that would have been made in the fourth century BC.

The enlarged copy was made for the Baths of Caracalla in Rome (dedicated in 216 AD), where the statue was recovered in 1546, and is now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples


In this case:

Much older means [at least] 500 mainstream chronology years.

Lysippos [circa 390-300 BC] was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC.

Together with Scopas and Praxiteles, he is considered one of the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek era, bringing transition into the Hellenistic period.

Problems confront the study of Lysippos because of the difficulty of identifying his style among the copies which survive.


Lysippus made many statues of Alexander the Great, and so satisfied his patron, no doubt by idealizing him, that he became the court sculptor of the king, from whom and from whose generals he received many commissions.

Encyclopædia Britannica -1911 – Volume 17 – Lysippus

Technically, the Farnese Hercules should have been called the Farnese Heracles if it was copied from a Greek original.

Heracles was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon.

He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae, and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters.

In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman emperors, in particular Commodus [177-192 AD] and Maximian [286 to 305 AD], often identified themselves.


Either way:

The unearthing of the Farnese Hercules in 1546 – under the patronage of Pope Paul III – occurred during troubled times for the Catholic Church.

Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope from 13 October 1534 to his death in 1549.

He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation.

During his pontificate, and in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation, new Catholic religious orders and societies, such as the Jesuits, the Barnabites, and the Congregation of the Oratory, attracted a popular following.


The Society of Jesus is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church which originated in sixteenth-century Spain. The members are called Jesuits.

… the order’s organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by a bull containing the “Formula of the Institute”.


The Sack of Rome on 6 May 1527 was a military event carried out in Rome (then part of the Papal States) by the mutinous troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.


Some of these troubles were self-inflicted because Pope Paul III “employed nepotism to advance the power and fortunes of his family”.

He was a significant patron of the arts and employed nepotism to advance the power and fortunes of his family.


This leaves the independent researcher to wonder whether Pope Paul III also employed sculptors to [anonymously] advance the provenance, power and profits of the Catholic Church.

The Farnese Hercules is an ancient statue of Hercules, probably an enlarged copy made in the early third century AD and signed by Glykon, who is otherwise unknown; the name is Greek but he may have worked in Rome.



Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni or more commonly known by his first name Michelangelo (1475-1564) was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance born in the Republic of Florence, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art.

Rome, 1534–1546
In Rome, Michelangelo lived near the church of Santa Maria di Loreto.

Shortly before his death in 1534 Pope Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint a fresco of The Last Judgement on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel.

His successor, Paul III, was instrumental in seeing that Michelangelo began and completed the project, which he laboured on from 1534 to October 1541.


Immediately afterwards Clement died, and was succeeded by a Farnese under the title of Paul III.

Even more than his predecessor, Paul insisted on claiming the main services of Michelangelo for himself, and forced him to let all other engagements drift.

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica – Volume 18 – Michelangelo

More specifically:

Did the Farnese family operate a scam whereby contemporary sculptures [including spoilt and damaged specimens] were fraudulently recycled as revered Roman relics?

A review of the sculptures from the Baths of Caracalla suggests there are some surprisingly unscathed specimens of exceptionally high quality that were recovered from the ruins.

But deciding whether a specific sculpture is a cuckoo in the nest is a subjective call.

However, in this context, the mystery of Michelangelo’s “lost” Hercules and the narrative of the “excavated” Farnese Hercules makes for interesting reading.

In 1492, Michelangelo sculpted a gigantic statue of the mythological hero Hercules.

The statue has not been seen since 1713 but historians are able to understand the significance of this piece from records of its movement throughout history.

It passed through the possession of a multitude of notable historical figures such as Piero de’ Medici, Filippo Strozzi, and King Francis I of France.

Fordham Art History – Michelangelo
Reconstructing the Lost Hercules
Fordham University – The Jesuit University of New York


Francis I (1494-1547) was the first King of France from the Angoulême branch of the House of Valois, reigning from 1515 until his death in 1547.

Francis also commissioned a number of agents in Italy to procure notable works of art and ship them to France.


List of works by Michelangelo

Hercules – c. 1492–1493 – Lost – Marble


The Farnese Hercules is a massive marble statue…

The rediscovered statue quickly made its way into the collection of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III.


Alessandro Farnese (1520-1589), an Italian cardinal and diplomat and a great collector and patron of the arts, was the grandson of Pope Paul III…

Alessandro Farnese is remembered for gathering the greatest collection of Roman sculpture assembled in private hands since Antiquity, now mostly in Naples, after passing by inheritance to the Bourbon-Parma kings.

In the Palazzo Farnese the best sculptors worked under his eye, to restore fragments of antiquities as complete sculptures, with great scholarly care.


The Farnese statue was moved to Naples in 1787 with most of the Farnese Collection and is now displayed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale there.


Colossal Statue of the Farnese Hercules found with Nos. 240 and 260 in the Baths of Caracalla at Rome.

The legs were discovered afterwards and united to the body by Tagliolini. Only the left hand and forearm and a few trifling details are modern.

Illustrated guide to the National Museum in Naples – 1897

Google Translation

Filippo Tagliolini (1745-1809) was an Italian sculptor and ceramist.

In 1780, already sufficiently known, he was summoned to Naples to work at the Real factory Ferdinandea ( 1771-1806 )…


The overall impression that something isn’t quite right is reinforced when the mosaics from the Baths of Caracalla are considered.

Although the baths complex was built at the beginning of the 3rd century AD, these mosaics probably date from restoration work undertaken at the beginning of the 4th century AD.

Musei Vaticani – Mosaic from the Bath of Caracalla

The Baths of Diocletian
The random rearrangement of events in the official Roman narrative results in contradictions and chronological glitches.

However, this technique of auspicious acquisition and random rearrangement is flawed because the resultant historical fiction is contradicted by [amongst other things] the reality of Latin inscriptions.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/a-for-augustus/

Gunnar Heinsohn has very elegantly highlighted how the mainstream Diocletian narrative represents a chronological regression of about 300 years in the history of art.

Those who prefer to date Constantine the Great (or Diocletian) with criteria of art history rather than archaeologically also come to the conclusion that he must have lived in the early 1st and not in the early 4th century.

Gunnar Heinsohn: Finding Bede’s Missing Metropolis
See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/gunnar-heinsohn-finding-bedes-missing-metropolis-part-one/

The “decline” in Late Antiquity typically represents a “regression” of about 300 years.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/enigmatic-egypt-roman-ruination-red-sea-hills/

Diocletian, born Diocles (244-311), was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305.


In the domain of sculpture the Baths of Diocletian present a confused picture.

The Baths of Diocletian were public baths in ancient Rome, in what is now Italy.

Named after emperor Diocletian and built from 298 to 306, they were the largest of the imperial baths.

The project was originally commissioned by Maximian upon his return to Rome in the autumn of 298 and was continued after his and Diocletian’s abdication under Constantius, father of Constantine.


On the one hand:

Exterior sculptures suggests the chronological glitch could exceed 300 years.

On the other hand:

Interior sculptures display a degree of contextual continuity with the Baths of Caracalla.

This curious juxtaposition may [or may not] have something to do with the Baths of Caracalla having a resident sculptor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The World’s Work – Vol XIX – Nov 1909 to Apr 1910
Editor: Walter H Page


Moses Jacob Ezekiel, also known as Moses “Ritter von” Ezekiel (1844-1917) was a Jewish-American sculptor who lived and worked in Rome for the majority of his career.

In Europe he completed the sculptures and paintings for which he is famous.

Ezekiel died in his studio in Rome, Italy, and was temporarily entombed there.

In 1921, he was reinterred at the foot of his Confederate Memorial in Section 16 of Arlington National Cemetery.


Baths of Constantine
This curious juxtaposition is underlined by the Baths of Constantine.

On the one hand:

The Baths of Constantine were “probably” built before 315 AD.

Baths of Constantine was a public bathing complex built on the Quirinal Hill in Rome by Constantine I, probably before 315.


On the other hand:

The dating of the bronze Boxer at Rest “found on the site” ranges from 330 to 50 BC.

The bronze Boxer at Rest, also known as the Terme Boxer or Boxer of the Quirinal, is a Hellenistic Greek sculpture of a sitting nude boxer at rest, still wearing his caestus, a type of leather hand-wrap.

It has been given various dates within the period of about 330 to 50 BCE.

The Boxer< is one of two unrelated bronzes (the other being the unidentified Hellenistic ruler) discovered on the slopes of the Quirinal within a month of each other in 1885, possibly from the remains of the Baths of Constantine.

It appears that both had been carefully buried in antiquity.


Notable art works were found on the site of these thermae, among them:
• The bronze statues of a boxer and an athlete now in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme of the National Roman Museum


Like most Hellenistic sculptures not fixed to a specific historical date, the Boxer at Rest is difficult to date on stylistic grounds alone, given that sculptors utilized a variety of styles in the Hellenistic period (323–31 B.C.).

Scholars have placed the statue anywhere from the late fourth century B.C., noting its stylistic similarities to statues attributed to Lysippos and other compositional features, to the middle of the first century B.C., where it is compared to other powerful classicizing works such as the Belvedere Torso in the Vatican Museum.

The Boxer: An Ancient Masterpiece Comes to the Met
Seán Hemingway – Curator – Department of Greek and Roman Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – 17 June 2013


Interestingly, the experts appear to avoid the issue of whether the Boxer at Rest is a Greek original or a Roman copy of an earlier Greek work.

Either way:

The Roman predilection for copying earlier Greek works is said to date back to [at least] the “1st–2nd century BC”.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apollon_de_Mantoue_Louvre_MA689.jpg

With the Greek originals coming from as far back as the 5th century BC.

Polykleitos was an ancient Greek sculptor in bronze of the 5th century BCE.


Coincidently, in the realm of Radiocarbon Dating, the connection between the Roman Era and Greece in the 5th century BC is represented by an artificial academic artefact that stretches from 465 BC to 743 CE.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/deranged-dating-the-roman-problem/

This coincidence suggests the 5th century BC is a significant chronological connection point.

Jerusalem, Rome, and a Stratigraphic Solution for the Enigmas of 3000 to 300 BC – Gunnar Heinsohn (August 2018)

Click to access 3000-300-bc-august-2018-heinsohn.pdf

Unfortunately, from there on in, the provenance of Roman relics becomes debatable – especially if they were excavated during the Renaissance.

This entry was posted in Arabian Horizon, Deranged Dating, Epigraphy - Inscriptions, Heinsohn Horizon, History, Radiocarbon Dating. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to S for Sculpture

  1. Louis Hissink says:

    Which makes me wonder Michaelangelo’s David statue might have an interesting provenance, Given the terrible weather and climate conditions of the time, Little Ice Age and all that, people had time and resources to craft this art? I wonder how much of the second millennium is fake history.

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