Lošinj (Lussino) Island

Bronze Man From Croatia

A group of experts recently presented their evaluation of the bronze statue which was removed from the Adriatic sea-floor several weeks ago near the island of Lošinj. They also suggested measures for its preservation and protection.

Experts gathered in the Croatian Ministry of Culture to discuss the condition and measures that should be taken in order to protect and adequately present the major archeological discovery of an ancient bronze statue of an athlete, which was recently found in the waters off the island of Lošinj. The statue has been dubbed the "Bronze Man" of Croatia.

It is highly probable that the statue depicts the athlete Apoxyomenos rubbing off oil and dust from his body with a scraper. An archeological diving team of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Administration, a part of the Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with Croatian Interior Ministry divers, removed the statue from under 44 meters deep sea, where it ended up after a shipwreck. Foreign partners, research sponsors and representatives of Oxford Maritime Limited were also present during this complicated operation.

"Since this is the first time that such a conservatory operation is taking place in Croatia, we formed a commission which will evaluate the condition of the statue and make suggestions for a preservation program," said Miljenko Domijan, the assistant culture minister in charge of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Administration. In addition to local conservationists from the Croatian Restoration Institute and the Ru?er Boškovia Institute, top world experts William Oddy of the British Museum and Giuliano Tordi of the eminent Opificio delle pietre dure restoration institute in Florence were also invited. The final procedure of the conservation (after moving the statue) will take place in the Zadar Archeological Museum, which was placed in charge of the project called "The Statue and the Shipwreck."

The sculpture is believed to be a copy of a Greek original from the fourth century BC. "The research of the maritime location, scheduled for July 1, will be carried out by a Croatian-Belgian-English archeological diving team," said Marijan Orlia, the head of the Archeology Section of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Administration. World-renowned photographers from National Geographic magazine will take be taking photos of the research work.

"When the statue is identified either as an original or a replica, as well as appropriately preserved and presented, Croatia will not only have a major archeological find but also an exceptional tourist attraction," said Biškupia. Leading Italian archeology publications and the television station RAI 3 have already shown great interest in the statue.


  • Marina Tendjera, Vjesnik, 1999

DATELINE :- 6th March 2000
Priceless find

Archaeologists raise ancient bronze statue

An archaeological diving team lead by veteran wreck hunter Robert Stenuit has raised a rare Greek or Roman bronze statue from a wreck site near Vele Orjule island, in the Adriatic Sea off Croatia.  

The find could represent one of the most sensational and important historical finds of the century. There are so few similar known examples in existence that experts have described the statue as "priceless", writes Rex Cowan.

The life-sized bronze, of an athlete, was first located accidentally by a Belgian amateur diver, René Wouters, in 1996, at a depth of 42m. The intriguing question, still not answered, was whether it came from a shipwreck and, if so, whether other bronzes might lie under the sand and mud. A large lead stock anchor and remains of an amphora lay nearby. Sténuit's divers relocated the statue, head separated from body, in an eerie gloom, proud of the seabed but covered by marine organisms and corroded by the sea. It was raised and put into the care of the Croatian Underwater Archaeology Unit, which will oversee years of conservation and treatment aimed at restoring the bronze to its former beauty for public exhibition. The multinational dive team was financed and supported by the Oxford Maritime Trust, which sponsors marine archaeological projects. The divers used an expedition vessel carrying state-of-the-art underwater surveying, detecting and remote-sensing equipment, including a novel underwater metal detector. 

Following the salvage operation, Sténuit continued with test excavations to explore for other signs of a wreck. He plans a return to the area next year.


  • Divernet News - "Archaeologists raise ancient bronze statue", March 6, 2000 - http://www.divernet.com/gear/../news/items/statue060300.htm" target="_top

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Created: Saturday, March 11, 2000; Last Updated: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
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