The day after Christmas, December 26, 2001, Nicolas Figuerolles, amateur diving fanatic, had the luck to discover two magnificent bronze statuettes.
That day, he got into the water in a zone that he frequented regularly right by the beach by the sea near Marseillan-Plage, and he made these two incredible discoveries.
"There were winter storms which stirred up the bottom and moved the sediment."
During this dive, not only did he discover the statuette of Césarion but another right next to it, that of Eros, the God of Love.
"I saw the calf of the first statuette, Eros, and I delicately extracted him from the sediment and underneath I then noticed Césarion... I had a moment of emptiness. For 10 or 15 seconds I didn't know if I was breathing...."
The two statuettes are in bronze. Eros has eyes of silver and Césarion had eyes of glass paste but they have not been found.
The desire to dive struck Figuerolles in 1997 during training at the School of the Sea in Sète. He had a professor friend who loved to dive. This friend had a keen interest in everything that was a wreck or an antiquity. And at each of their meetings Nicolas Figuerolles didn't stop asking his friend to bring him diving. And "giving up", he brought Figuerolles diving in this area "in fact so that I would not go rummaging around in his own zone."
From which zone these discoveries were made after four years of exploration.
"When I finally found it, that was well-worth the four years of excavations. There are those who spend as much time without finding anything."
Right away, there was the discovery of the Mosaic on May 10, 2003. The Mosaic, named "The Musical Joust of Apollo and the Condemnation of the Satyr", weighed at least 40 kg. It was discovered in the same zone as the two statuettes.
"One day, I wanted to change my depth gauge (the instrument that divers use at all times to check the depth they're at), as in all dives the important thing is the water level to know if the sand has left or not. Therefore, if you come back to the same site and notice that 20 cm of sand is missing, you just might find something."
"And that day, in trying it in the this same zone, I happened upon the Mosaic. It was planted vertically, half-buried in sand. Coming back to my place with the object, I phoned right away to advise them of this discovery."
"In order to find the emplacement again, I took care to put in place a metal carabiner which allowed, ensuite, to localize the exact point of the discovery."
This polychromatic mosaic is composed of a limestone base and a mortar assembly of 15,000 tessarae.
Despite all these discoveries of great patrimonial interest, Nicolas Figuerolles stopped his dives. Having had an accident in his youth, he feels today that the repercussions and the fatigue no longer allows him as much diving as before.
On the day of my meeting with him at the Museum of the Ephebe at the Cap d'Agde, Nicolas Figuerolles had just dropped off a new "object".
"An object discovered off the coast of Balaruc-les-Bains, an object in bronze still not defined and therefore "unknown" which could be, after the first hypotheses a dish or a bracket from a hand mirror. Its style dates it as ancient (even gallo-roman)."
Today, from the moment that "the object" was dropped off by its inventor, a study begins of the work (dating, usage, origin, ....) as well as a restoration in a laboratory specializing in the metal archeological furniture before it can be presented to the public."
(Informations given by Olivier Chambon, registrar of the collections of the Museum of the Ephèbe)
It is to note that after a stay of more than 6 months in Japan, Césarion is going again, accompanied by the emblem of Mosaic, to be ready for an exposition on the 50 years from DRASSM. This exposition, "Memory to the Sea, Diving to the Heart of Submarine Archeology", will take place at the Museum of History of Marseille from April 28, 2016 to May 28, 2017.
More information at : www.museecapdagde.com
Jean-Marc Roger/Janet Lee Clark