The horse head from Lahnau-Waldgirmes

The horse head from Lahnau-Waldgirmes

A special stroke of luck
In 2009, the Roman-Germanic Commission, Frankfurt, excavated a well in the Roman settlement of Lahnau-Waldgirmes near Gießen. At the bottom of this well, about 11 m deep, the head of a bronze horse came to light in a wooden barrel buried under millstones. After the extensive restoration in the workshops of the hessenARCHAEOLOGIE in the State Office for Monument Preservation, the bronze sculpture was shown to be in very good condition with gilding. The head belonged to an equestrian statue made of gilded bronze that was erected in the Forum of Waldgirmes and probably represented the Roman Emperor Augustus.

To date, only a few bronze sculptures from the ancient world are known that reach a similar artistic level. Of particular importance for the historical classification is the location where the statue was found and thus the exact dating to the period between 4 BC. and 16 AD. This makes the find a special stroke of luck in terms of art history. The reconstruction of the forum complex with equestrian statues made of gilded bronze gives the city complex a new historical dimension.

Horse head made of gilded bronze, length 59 cm
Photo: hessenARCHAEOLOGY in the State Office for Monument Preservation, Pavel Odvody

Bronze rider's shoe, length 17.5 cm
Photo: Roman fort Saalburg, Elke Löhnig

The finds from Waldgirmes have been on display in the Principia of the Saalburg Roman fort since 19 August: The first room provides information on the Waldgirmes archaeological site. Ceramics, tools and special artefacts such as gems (cut ring inlays) and clasps (fibulae) from the excavations are on display here. The showcases are complemented by so-called "hands-on stations" with enlarged replicas of objects and a media table that can be used to call up a wide variety of reconstructions or animations. The horse's head forms the highlight of the exhibition against the backdrop of a suggested reconstruction of the equestrian statue in its original size.

A new museum guide entitled “Rome in Germania. Waldgirmes – Permanent exhibition in the Saalburg Roman fort”, which is available in the museum shop, offers further in-depth information about the exhibition and the Lahnau-Waldgirmes discovery site.

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