Art: Ancient Gifts from the Sea

Fifth century B.C. masterpieces saved by sand and science

Thrusting out of the sea bottom, the hand on the sinewy forearm was reaching beyond the abyss of time. Two swimmers spotted it while diving off a beach at Riace Marina, a resort in Reggio Calabria on the toe of the Italian boot. Their find was not far offshore (about 325 yds.) or in very deep water (less than 26 ft.). But it turned out to be astonishingly distant in age: about 24 centuries, in fact. Experts quickly uncovered a 990-lb. life-size bronze figure of a...

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