After 500 Years, Missing Finger of Constantine the Great is Reunited With Its Hand

Fragments of the statue of Constantine in the Rome’s Capitoline Museums. AP PHOTO/ALESSANDRA TARANTINO

A huge statue of the hand of Constantine the Great in Rome has been reunited with its missing finger after more than 500 years.

The 38cm-long bronze index finger, found in the Louvre in Paris in 2018, was remounted on to the statue at Rome’s Capitoline Museums on Wednesday.

The finger was “perfectly” restored to its rightful place “using a non-invasive, reversible and invisible system”, the director of the museums, Claudio Parisi Presicce, told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.

The Louvre had mistakenly categorised the finger as a toe until an eagle-eyed researcher, Aurélia Azéma, established that it was the long-lost digit from the hand of the Roman emperor’s 12m-high (39ft) statue, fragments of which had been kept at the Capitoline Museums.

The ancient relic was among a collection acquired by the Louvre from the Italian banker and art collector Giampietro Campana in 1863. Campana, who died in 1880, brought together one of the 19th century’s greatest collections of Roman and Greek antiquities.

In 1913, the Paris museum had categorised the finger as a Roman toe and it was not until 2018 that it was recategorised. Azéma, a doctoral student, made the discovery during her research into ancient welding techniques for large bronze statues. She realised that the fractured finger would fit a statue around 12m tall, leading to the theory that it may be Constantine’s missing index figure.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Angela Giuffrida