Headless Hercules turns up in Israel dig

Statue of Hercules exposed at Horvat Tarbenet in the Jezreel Valley Israel Antiquities Authority

Archeologists have uncovered a rare second century marble statue of Hercules in northern Israel.

The excavations in Israel's Jezreel Valley were carried out at Horvat Tarbenet, a site that was a Jewish settlement in the third century CE.

"This is a rare discovery," said Walid Atrash of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The statue, thought to have decorated a bathhouse pool that was also exposed during the course of the excavations, is of exceptional artistic quality, according to Atrash.

"Hercules is depicted in three dimension, as a naked figure standing on a base. His bulging muscles stand out prominently, he is leaning on a club to his left, on the upper part of which hangs the skin of the Nemean lion, which according to Greek mythology Hercules slew as the first of his twelve labors"," he said.

The same excavation has also turned up a complex featuring dwellings, a well and a large pool thought to have been part of a Roman bathhouse. Archeologists believe that the site underwent a number of changes between the Roman and Byzantine periods.

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