The Tomis Sculpture Treasure

Tomis (the former name of the city of Constantza, Romania, situated on the shore of the Black Sea) is a 2550 year-old Greek city that has a historical past overlain with the constructions of the modern city.The name of the city comes from Constanta, an old quarter of the Tomitan city, as R. Vulpe has proven, situated towards the north of the city, within the confines of the walls of the Roman premises from the 3rd-4th century.The systematization of the modern city forced the City Hall to pull down older buildings such as railway stations (the old railway station of the city), railway tracks, depots and other utilities and move them to new positions, most of them outside the city.In the spring of the year 1962, digging was carried out under the supervision of the archeologist A. V. Rădulescu, for the foundations of the new building constructions, that were to take the place of the marshalling yard and to start the group of blocks of flats from the Old Railway Station. At some point, a worker hit a hard object with his shovel and so started the adventure of the most important sculpture thesaurus ever discovered in Constantza.The surprise was even greater because the greatest thesaurus of sculptures in the history of the city had been discovered. The sculptures had been gathered and buried very carefully and in great haste in the face of an imminent danger. The analysis of the hole in which the thesaurus had been buried provided no clues and neither did the land in the vicinity. They found out that the hole was dug at the very moment when the thesaurus was hid, in the fresh, original land, so that they could not make a comparison with a normal stratigraphy. In the hole, the remains of a nearby wall superposed on the thesaurus proved that it had no connection with the archaeological treasure.As the hole became deeper all the elements of the thesaurus started to appear, other sculptures, carefully propped on one another, so that the land would not crumble down and so that the sculptures would not break under the pressure of the tall column of land.In a few hours twenty-four sculptures were discovered.All the pieces were made of marble of different quality.The thesaurus was immediately removed and brought to the laboratory of the Archaeology Museum in Constantza.The piece by piece analysis of the thesaurus was accomplished in two years, so that at the end of 1963 it was possible to issue a catalogue of the pieces discovered, systematized according to several criteria:One criterion was mythological;A second criterion was based on a chronology of the pieces; in the absence of more certain clues or of inscriptions, deduction was made through analogy;Finally, a subjective criterion relied on the expertise of several specialists in art, in the domain of the materials used and so on.The impact of this monumental discovery immediately circulated around the world and the first specialists came to Constantza, attracted by the beauty of the pieces and not in the least by the intrinsic historical-documentary value of the thesaurus.In 1963, three young archeologists who had freshly arrived in Constantza, Andrei Aricescu, Vasile Barbu and Adrian Rădulescu, coordinated by the director of the Archeology Museum, Vasile Canarache (1896-1969), published the first catalogue of the pieces discovered.1959: A. Radulescu and his team  Adrian V. Rădulescu (1932-2000)He was, and remains, the most famous scholar Dobrogea has had.He came to Constantza in 1965 after graduating from the History Faculty at the University of Bucharest; a student eminently prepared by Dumitru Tudor, he participated together with Vasile Canarache in the setting up and opening of the Archeology Museum in Constantza, under the form of exhibition and research facilities in which it exists today still.Since 1969 he became and remained so until his death the director of the Archaeology Museum. A. Rădulescu was from Ialomitza by birth.His personality as a scholar and as a man, without being a political factor, imposed him as the first prefect of Constantza County after the revolution of December 1989.The cultural life of the city and of Constantza County needed, and had demanded from the Government for many years, a higher education school, a University, particularly of medicine. Eventually, the personality and probity of this remarkable scholar made themselves visible in front of the authorities.He was elected rector of the Ovidius University in Constantza.After he solved the most difficult organizational problems of the first prefecture of the county after new laws, not known in Constantza for the past 50 years, after the University founded by the eminent man started to function and was preparing to give the first graduates, A. V. Rădulescu retired at the Archaeology Museum.He died of kidney block in the summer of 2000.The Archaeology Museum in Constantza regrets him even today because it was unable to find and form a management team even now, ten years after the disappearance of the man of culture. Translated by Ştefania Tarbu

by Petre Covacef