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Emperor Constantine statue looks out over Rome again

ROME –

Emperor Constantine, the 4th century ruler whose embrace of Christianity helped spread the faith throughout the Roman Empire, now has a reconstructed statue befitting his larger-than-life role in history.

Rome authorities on Tuesday unveiled a massive, 13-meter (42.6 feet) replica of the statue Constantine commissioned for himself after 312 AD. It was imagined using 3D modelling technology from scans of the nine giant original marble body parts that remain.

The result: An imposing figure of a seated emperor, draped in a gilded tunic and holding a scepter and orb, gazing over his Rome from a side garden of the Capitoline Museums. The reconstructed statue is just around the corner from the museum courtyard where the original fragments of Constantine’s giant feet, hands and head are prime tourist attractions.

Reconstituted into its original whole, the statue inspires awe in the smaller viewers below — just as Constantine originally intended for his subjects, officials said at the unveiling.

“In this statue there’s not just beauty, there’s the violence of power,” said Salvatore Settis, an archaeologist and art historian who is on the steering committee of the Fondazione Prada, the cultural and educational arm of the Milan-based fashion house which financed the project.

Officials declined to say how much the initiative cost, but the replica was made by the Factum Foundation, a Madrid-based nonprofit that creates high-resolution digital replicas of the world’s cultural patrimony.

“This whole dynamic about how you use technology to transform our understanding of and the importance of cultural heritage is the core mission of Factum Foundation,” said the group’s founder Adam Lowe.

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The statue itself is made from resin, polyurethane and marble powder for the body, and gold leaf and plaster for the gilded tunic that drapes over it.

A second version of the statue is to be installed in northeast England, where Constantine guarded the Hadrian’s Wall fortification before being crowned emperor in Rome.

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