The statue has been variously dated from the end of the first to the beginning of the third centuries — and a lightning strike helped ensure its preservation.
ROME, Italy — Scaffolding in a niche of the Vatican Museums’ Round Hall conceal from view the work of restorers who are removing centuries of grime from the largest known bronze statue of the ancient world: the gilded Hercules Mastai Righetti.
For more than 150 years, the 13-foot-tall figure of the half-human Roman god of strength has stood in that niche, barely garnering notice among other antiquities because of the dark coating it had acquired.
But it was only after removing a layer of wax and…
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