The frustrating thing about history is all of the unanswered questions that can be left in its wake. While we might have some understanding of life was like in places like ancient Greece and Rome, it can often feel like we have more to ponder than we’d like.
Thankfully, we have people among us who dedicate their entire lives to answering all of life’s riddles. Archaeologists and historians often work in tandem to unearth and explain some of history’s most confounding finds.
When a massive statue of a just a few fingers was unearthed in Jordan, people were flummoxed. Then, when scholars started to dig deeper, it all made sense….
“The Hand of Hercules” was the name given to this gigantic fragment of a much larger—and still missing—statue that was discovered by a group of archaeologists in Amman, the capital city of Jordan. To say that it’s an intriguing structure would be an understatement.
The statue earned its name because this relatively small piece of the statue was believed to have once been a part of a colossal work of marble erected to honor the mythical Hercules. This theory is likely as it was found at the site of the Roman Temple built in his honor.
Apart from this hand—or, at least, three fingers of a hand—the only other piece of the statue that has been discovered is a chunk of the elbow. You can see the hand and the elbow by visiting Amman’s Temple of Hercules.
Scholars believe that he Temple of Hercules was built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Some archaeologists believe that it was never actually finished since only a part of the structure has columns, but without definitive evidence, this theory is only speculation.
Using the information that remains of the structure, and looking for clues at the site of the temple itself, researchers have put together a model of what the temple probably looked like. You can also see it in Amman.
Some think that Temple of Hercules was built on the site of an older temple. There is a strangely bare patch of rock that has been left exposed in what would have been the inner sanctum. It was clearly done for a reason…
Those who are convinced about the ancient tomb theory believe that this “sacred rock ” was the center of the 9th century B.C. Ammonite Temple of Milcom, which is also written as Moloch or Molech.
So, what happened to the rest of this giant statue of Hercules? The truth is that scholars just don’t know. It could have been broken down by thieves or vandals, or it simply could have been lost to the vestiges of time.
However, scholars are absolutely positive that the statue depicts this powerful demigod. They know this to be true because, when the statue remnants were discovered, they were surrounded by coins emblazoned with the image of Hercules.
Based on the size of the three fingers and elbow, the complete statue of Hercules would have stood as tall as 43 feet! This would have made it one of the largest marble statues to have ever been sculpted by humans.
While we might never know the truth about what happened to this ancient statue, it presents a fascinating peek into a long bygone era. Isn’t history cool?
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