Skip to main content

London archaeologists find Roman eagle statue

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed October 30, 2013
Museum of London Archaeology conservator Luisa Duarte dusts a Roman sculpture of an eagle clutching a serpent, dating from the first or second century. It was dug up at a site in the City of London, the UK capital's financial center, which is known once to have been home to a Roman cemetery. The statue is 26 inches tall and made of limestone. It will be on display at the Museum of London for the next six months. Museum of London Archaeology conservator Luisa Duarte dusts a Roman sculpture of an eagle clutching a serpent, dating from the first or second century. It was dug up at a site in the City of London, the UK capital's financial center, which is known once to have been home to a Roman cemetery. The statue is 26 inches tall and made of limestone. It will be on display at the Museum of London for the next six months.
HIDE CAPTION
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
Pompeii of the north
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Archaeologists says the statue is in an "almost unbelievable" state of preservation
  • The sculpture of an eagle grasping a snake was found in a dig in the City of London
  • The limestone statue may once have graced a mausoleum, archaeologists say
  • It's been dated by experts to the first or second century

London (CNN) -- A Roman sculpture of an eagle with a writhing serpent firmly gripped in its hooked beak was unveiled Wednesday in London, where archaeologists found it on a site earmarked for a hotel development.

Archaeologists in London say the statue is one of the very best examples surviving from Roman Britain.

"The skill of the craftsman is apparent; with the forked tongue of the snake and the individual feathers of the eagle still clearly discernible," a news release from Museum of London Archaeology said.

The archaeologists were "at first hesitant to announce the discovery and to proclaim its Roman origins, owing to its almost unbelievable preservation," it said.

Rare Roman eagle found under London
Archaeologists discovered the Roman sculpture of an eagle at site in the City of London which was being developed into a hotel.
Archaeologists discovered the Roman sculpture of an eagle at site in the City of London which was being developed into a hotel.
Roman eagle statue found in London
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
>
>>
Roman eagle statue found in London Roman eagle statue found in London

But the limestone statue, which stands nearly 26 inches tall, has now been dated by experts to the first or second century.

It was dug up at a site in the City of London, the UK capital's financial center, which is known once to have been home to a Roman cemetery.

According to the museum, the symbolism of the statue can be understood "as the struggle of good, the eagle, against evil, the snake," a common theme in relation to funeral sites.

Archaeologists believe the sculpture may once have sat in an alcove on a fancy mausoleum whose foundations were also uncovered in the dig.

The statue will be on display at the Museum of London for the next six months.

A number of discoveries highlighting London's Roman past have been made in recent months in connection with major construction projects. They include about 20 Roman-era skulls found beneath London's Liverpool Street station by workers digging a new rail tunnel.

Read more: London dig turns up slice of Roman life

Read more: Rail excavation unearths suspected 'plague pit'

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 11:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT