The Bronzi di Riace (Italian for "Riace bronzes") are two famous full-size Greek bronzes of nude bearded warriors, cast about 460–450 BC and housed by the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria, Italy. However, from 2009, the bronzes are visible in the Palazzo Campanella, seat of the Regional Council of Calabria (Consiglio Regionale della Calabria), where they were brought due to the restoration of the Magna Grecia National Museum.
The Bronzi di Riace were first discovered in 1972 but did not emerge from conservation until 1981. Their exhibition in Florence and Rome was the cultural event of the year in Italy, providing covers for numerous magazines (Gemelli). They have been commemorated in a pair of postage stamps issued by Italy, and they are widely reproduced.
They are considered one of the symbols of Calabria.
Stefano Mariottini, a chemist from Rome, discovered the bronzes whilst snorkeling near the end of his vacation at Monasterace. While diving at a distance of 200 metres from the Riace's coast and at a depth of 6–8 metres, Mariottini noticed the left arm of statue A emerging from the sand. At first, he thought to have found a dead man, but, touching the arm, he suddenly realized that it was a bronze arm. Mariottini began to push the sand away from statue A and later noticed the presence of another bronze. He then decided to call the police. One week later, on August 21, statue B was taken out of the water and, two days later, it was the turn of statue A. No associated wreck site has been identified, but in the immediate area, on a subsiding coast, architectural remnants have also been found (Mariottini interview).
The bronzes and the story of their discovery were featured in the first episode of the 2005 BBC documentary series How Art Made the World, which included an interview with Stefano Mariottini.
Hypothesis on the date, origin and sculptors 
The Riace bronzes, also called Riace Warriors, are major additions to the surviving examples of ancient Greek sculpture. They belong in fact to a transitional period from archaic Greek sculpture to the early Classic style, disguising their idealized geometry and impossible anatomy (Spivey 2005) under a distracting and alluring "realistic" surface. They are a fine example of contrapposto - their weight is on the back legs and is much more realistic than Archaic stances. Their musculature is clear, yet not incised, and it looks soft enough to be visible and realistic. Their turned head does not only confer movement, but it also adds life to the sculptures. The asymmetrical layout of the arms and legs adds realism to the bronzes. Moreover, the statues' eyes are inlaid with bone and glass, while the teeth are in silver and both the lips and nipples are in copper. Formerly, they held spears and shields. Additionally, Riace Warrior B once wore a helmet pushed up atop his head, and it is thought that Riace Warrior A perhaps wore a wreath over his.
A local original destination is not impossible. Further explorations undertaken by a joint Italian-American team in 2004 identified the foundations of an Ionic temple on this slowly subsiding coast. Undersea explorations by robotic vehicles along the submerged coastline from Locri to Soverato are providing a more detailed picture of this coast in Antiquity, though no further "Riace bronzes" have been found.
Attributions of such spectacular works of art to famous sculptors have followed traditional lines: "all the 'big' names of Classical times have been proposed in this connection," Brunilde Sismondo Ridgeway writes, noting that she finds it encouraging that at least a few scholars are willing to consider a non-Attic, even a 'colonial' workshop of origin, as contrasted with "the dominant Athenocentrism of previous years."
While it is certain that they are original works of the highest quality, it has also been argued that their torsos have been produced from a single model, which was then altered with direct modifications to the wax before casting, and that they may be seen as types.
There is no clear testimony in ancient literature to identify the athletes or heroes depicted by the bronzes. It seems that the nudes originally formed part of a votive group in a large sanctuary. It is conjectured that the bronze sculptures represent Tydeus and Amphiaraus respectively, two warriors from the Seven Against Thebes monumental group in the polis of Argos, as Pausanias noted. However, they may also be Athenian warriors from Delphi, part of the monument to the battle of Marathon, or they may come from Olympia. Argos, Delphi and Olympia were three prominent Greek sites for dedicated sculpture of the highest quality, and were all vulnerable to official thefts after the Roman occupation. Perhaps the bronzes were being transported to Rome as booty, when a storm overtook their ship, though no evidence of a wreck could be found.
- Kleiner, p. 107,
- Mariottini is currently a researcher for the Sovraintendenza Archeologica della Calabria, through a cultural association, KODROS.
- "The study of Greek Sculpture in the Twenty-First Century", read 15 November 2003 before the American Philosophical Society, published in their Proceedings 2005.
- "A little farther on is a sanctuary of the Seasons. On coming back from here you see statues of Polyneices, the son of Oedipus, and of all the chieftains who with him were killed in battle at the wall of Thebes. These men Aeschylus has reduced to the number of seven only, although there were more chiefs than this in the expedition, from Argos, from Messene, with some even from Arcadia. But the Argives have adopted the number seven from the drama of Aeschylus, and near to their statues are the statues of those who took Thebes: Aegialeus, son of Adrastus; Promachus, son of Parthenopaeus, son of Talaus; Polydorus, son of Hippomedon; Thersander; Alcmaeon and Amphilochus, the sons of Amphiaraus; Diomedes, and Sthenelus. Among their company were also Euryalus, son of Mecisteus, and Adrastus and Timeas, sons of Polyneices." Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.20.5.
- Kleiner, Fred S. Gardner's Art Through the Ages: The Western Perspective, Volume 1, Cengage Learning, 2009. ISBN 9780495573609.
External Links / Further Reading 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Riace bronzes|
- "I Bronzi di Riace - Le altre verità" del Prof. Giuseppe Braghò
- Nigel Spivey, "The beauty myth", The New Statesman, 2 May 2005
- Mariottini interview (Italian)
- Bruno Gemelli, "Vissi d'arte, vissi di code" (Italian)
- "Sotto il mare caccia segreta ai “nuovi” bronzi di Riace" 14 September 2004
- Lombardi, Satriani & Paoletti (eds.) Gli Eroi Venuti Dal Mare Heroes from the Sea: The Photographic Record of the Riace Bronzes. Gangemi Editore.
- The Riace Warriors are extensively discussed and illustrated in Programme One ("More Human Than Human...") of the five part series How Art Made The World, written and narrated by Dr Nigel Spivey, who offers, in the programme, the opinion that they are the "best statues ever made." How Art Made The World is also available as a book (Basic Books, 2006 ISBN 0-465-08182-7, ISBN 978-0-465-08182-0).
- Pedley, John Grffiths. "Greek Art and Archeology", Fourth Ed. Pearson- Prentice Hall, 2007. PP.234–237.