While exploring the waters along the Italian coastline, divers recovered part of a statue that may have adorned a Roman emperor’s villa.
The fragment — a hunk of nondescript marble — was located in the Blue Grotto, a sea cave on the island of Capri known for its dazzling azure lighting.
Using balloons, divers hoisted the stone block from the seabed and carried it through an opening in the cave about 9 feet below the surface, according to a Feb. 10 news release from a division of the country’s Ministry of Culture.
It was then placed on a patrol boat and ferried to a port on Capri, where archaeologists examined it further.
The block was presumably once part of the ancient villa of Gradola — which was situated just above the cave, according to Positano News, a local newspaper, citing officials.
The villa — which lies in ruins now — is affiliated with Roman Emperor Tiberius, who reigned from 14 to 37 A.D., according to a 2015 study published in the journal International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation.
Tiberius, who is remembered as a despotic recluse, spent the last 10 years of his reign living on Capri.
He is believed to have considered the island a “magical” place that allowed him respite from public life, per the study.
Other heavily eroded marble artifacts have previously been recovered from the Blue Grotto.
The newfound statue fragment will be transported to Capri’s town hall, where it will be restored and subject to further analysis, officials said.
Google Translate was used to translate a news release from the Italian government and an article from Positano News.