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Emperor Constantine makes triumphant return to York
1:05pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
MORE than 1500 years after he was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York, Constantine has made a triumphant return to the city.
A two-millennia-old statue of the Emperor Constantine’s head has been welcomed back to the Yorkshire Museum after a year on loan to prestigious exhibitions in Milan and the Colosseum in Rome.
Curator of archaeology Natalie McCaul said it was great to have their star object back in York. “He’s been really missed.
“This is an iconic piece because it comes from a tiny backwater of the Roman Empire where Constantine became emperor.
“He was here when his father died, and the Roman soldiers proclaimed him emperor.
“We think this statue was originally of Hercules in a temple in York and the stonemasons hastily altered to become a Constantine when he was declared emperor.”
Thought to be the earliest portrait of Constantine, the marble statue is around one and a half times life size and was found on Stonegate close to what would have been the centre of the Roman city.
The statue was loaned to exhibitions in Milan and Rome to mark the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, the laws Constantine passed which made Christianity a lawful religion in the Roman empire.
“They were huge exhibitions with some amazing Roman treasures from across the world. There were so many great objects, but you could see how excited the curators over there were to have this statue because it is such an iconic item,” Natalie added.
The statue’s appearance in such prestigious exhibitions will have boosted the Yorkshire Museum’s standing and York’s reputation as a Roman city, she said.
“If you think about the footfall in the Colosseum an exhibition there is an amazing thing to be part of, and will raise the museum’s profile.”
The statue is now back in pride of place, and the museum will soon launch an animated five minute film about Constantine created by young people at the museum over the summer holidays.
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