London, November 7 (ANI): A bust of Julius Caesar, recovered from the Rhone riverbed, is now on display as part of an exhibition of artefacts discovered in the bed of the Rhone river over the last 20 years, at a museum in southern France.
According to a report in the Telegraph, an intrepid team of archaeologists has been diving for 20 years, struggling with poor visibility, strong currents and flipper-nibbling bullhead catfish to bring up the 500 or so objects on displayed.
In 2007, researchers bumped into intriguing column fragments, friezes and chunks of mausoleums.
And then they brought up the most extraordinary buried treasure of all: a bust of Julius Caesar.
The find, dated 46 BC, is all the more remarkable because it is likely to have been made during the emperor's lifetime.
It is the centrepiece for the exhibition organised by Luc Long, head of the French state department for archaeological, subaquatic and deep sea research.
The theme of Caesar, the Rhone for Memory, which runs until September 2010, is "to maintain the feeling of going on a journey with the archaeologist, following every stage of their work from the site of the digs right up to the restoration and exhibition of the artifacts," said its designer Pierre Berthier.
The collection suggests that ancient Arles was not only a port and place of passage, but "decorated" and "monumental", "an ostentatious facade aiming to display Rome's wealth and power," said Long.
The most stunning finds are together in the last room of the exhibition that Long calls "the saint of saints".
Alongside Caesar is the 1.8-metre (six-foot) marble statue of the god Neptune dating from the beginning of the third century AD, and a bronze satyr with its hands tied behind its back.
"We made new and very beautiful discoveries in 2009, which leaves one thinking that we have not come to the end of the reserves that this great natural museum - the Rhone river - still holds," said Long.
The divers also brought up remains of 15 shipwrecks, iron or lead ingots, rings, tools, shoe leather, small figurines and ceramics - vivid reminders of ancient Arles as a port receiving boatloads of goods from Gaul, Europe, the Orient, Africa.
When the exhibition ends next September the artefacts will be incorporated into the permanent collection of the city's museum, which its director Claude Sintes hopes, will get "an extension". (ANI)