Greek god of luck found after 1,500 years… hidden in a sewer

A statue of the god Hermes was hidden in a sewer for safekeeping (Picture: Reuters)

If you’re doing an archaeological dig in a sewer, – even an ancient Roman one – you’re probably hoping for some lost jewellery, or perhaps some coins.

However, a team in Bulgaria got quite the surprise when they were confronted with the smooth bum cheeks and well-preserved head of the Greek god Hermes.

The huge marble statue, standing two metres tall, was found lying on its side in a drain during excavation work at the site of the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica, southwestern Bulgaria, which lies close to the Greek border.

Archaeologists leading the work said that after an earthquake devastated the sprawling city in about 388 CE, the statue had been carefully placed in the sewers and covered with soil, explaining its good condition.

Lyudmil Vagalinski, who led the team of archaeologists, said: ‘Its head is preserved. [It’s in a] very good condition. There are a few fractures on the hands.’

He added that the statue was a Roman copy of a Greek original.

Safety first for the archaeologist Dr Lyudmil Vagalinski (front) (Picture: Reuters)

In fact, the slightly soggy god is a shining emblem of religious tolerance.

The team said that the people of the Heraclea Sintica likely attempted to preserve the statue, even after Christianity was adopted as the official religion in the Roman Empire.

‘Everything pagan was forbidden, and they have joined the new ideology, but apparently they took care of their old deities,’ said Mr Vagalinski.

The team carefully excavates around the statue (Picture: Reuters)

Heraclea Sintica was a sprawling city founded by the ancient Macedonian king Philip II of Macedon, between 356 BCE and 339 BCE in what is now the Bulgarian region of Pirin Macedonia.

After the earthquake, it fell into a rapid decline and was abandoned by around 500 CE.

Hermes was the god of many things, including trade, wealth, fertility, animal husbandry, thieves, sleep and language – it is said he invented the alphabet. 

He was also the god of luck, which might explain how spending more than 1,500 years in a sewer turned out to be rather fortuitous. 

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