2000-year-old marble head of god Dionysus discovered in Rome

The bust, believed to be 2000 years old, was excavated from the ground in near-pristine condition.
The bust, believed to be 2000 years old, was excavated from the ground in near-pristine condition. Photo credit: Facebook/Archaeological Park of the Colosseum.

Archaelogists have discovered a large marble head depicting the ancient god Dionysus while excavating Rome's city centre.

Dionysus was the god of wine, grape-harvest, dance, theatre and fertility in ancient Greek religion and mythology. He is also referred to by the Roman name Bacchus. 

The marble tribute was unearthed by archaeologists close to the remains of the Roman Forum.

Archaeologists agree the head previously belonged to an impressive statue of Dionysus, dating back to the imperial era. The head is thought to be around 2000 years old, created somewhere between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD.

The director of Rome's archaeological museums, Claudio Parisi Presicce, told The Telegraph: "The hollow eyes, which were probably filled with glass or precious stones, date it back to the first centuries of the Roman Empire."

The Telegraph reports that the archaeologists were searching around medieval remains of the Rome Town Hall when they came across the white marble head hidden in the ground.

"It was built into the wall, and had been recycled as a building material, as often happened in the medieval era," the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum, which also includes the Roman Forum, said in a statement.

"The face is refined and gracious, young and feminine. All of which makes us think this could be a depiction of Dionysus."

Experts have said the bust is in excellent condition, reports the Telegraph. It will be cleaned and eventually displayed. Once thoroughly cleaned, experts believe some of the original colour will be visible in the band around Dionysus' hair.

Dionysus is generally depicted in myth as the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, the only Greek god born from a mortal mother. He is a major figure of worship in ancient Greek religion and mythology.

It is believed a cult to Dionysus was brought to Rome, eventually resulting in his Roman name, Bacchus, and his conscription into the official Roman pantheon of gods.