Workers renovating the sewage system in Athens have discovered the bust of a Greek god dating back to around 300BC.
The 2,300-year-old marble sculpture of the ancient god Hermes was found to be in a largely unscathed condition.
According to the Greek Culture Ministry, it shows the deity at a “mature age” whereas most of his caricatures depict him as youthful and athletic, without a beard.
The mature imagery of Hermes relates to archaic Greek art where he is displayed as bearded, dressed as a traveller, herald, or pastor.
Hermes was considered a messenger of the gods in the ancient Greek religion and is characterised by his “winged sandals” allowing him to move between the realms of the mortal and divine.
He goes by the name “Mercury” and was considered a protector of travellers, trade, thieves, sports, athletes and border crossings.
The Greek authorities said the bust appears to be a creation of famed Greek sculptor Alcamenes, adding that the head was one of many that served as street markers in ancient Athens.
It was discovered at a depth of about 1.3 metres on Aiolou Street, in downtown Athens, which is named after Aeolus, the god of winds in Greek mythology.
The bust is likely to have been a fragment of a Hermetic column, which were established at crossroads and streets and served as road signs.
After serving as a street market, the head would have been built into the wall of a drainage duct.
A statement from the Greek Culture Ministry said: “From the head, a head of Hermes was unveiled, depicting the god in adulthood, apparently a fragment of a Hermetic column.
“The iconography of the sculpture is characteristic of the type of Hermes Propylaeus of Alkamenos.’
This find, which is in remarkably good condition, was immediately transferred to a warehouse of the Ephorate of Antiquities, a department dedicated to protecting artefacts.