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Oldest known bust of Caesar found

Divers in France have found the oldest known bust of Roman dictator Julius Caesar at the bottom of the River Rhone, officials have said.

The marble bust was found near Arles, which was founded by Caesar.

France's culture ministry said the bust was from 46BC, the date of the southern town's foundation.

The ministry described the bust - which shows a lined face and a balding head - as typical of realist portraits of the Republican era.

It said other items had been found at the same site, including a 1.8m (6ft) marble statue of Neptune from the first decade of the third century AD, and two smaller statues in bronze.

Divers taking part in an archaeological excavation made the discovery between September and October 2007.

Luc Long, the archaeologist who directed the excavations, said all the busts of Caesar in Rome were posthumous.

A group of republican senators assassinated Caesar in 44BC.

"I suspect the bust was thrown in the river after he was assassinated because it would not have been good at that time to be considered a follower of his," said Mr Long.

Some of the objects found in the river will be displayed in a museum on ancient Arles, the culture ministry said.


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