Vignacce Marsyas
Credit: Comune di Roma

Christmas comes early in Rome. The Capitoline Museums, the oldest public museum in the world, has add a "new" statue to its collection—the 2nd century AD Vignacce Marsyas, a colored marble statue depicting an epic scene from the famous Greek myth of Marsyas. (Marsyas was flayed alive by Apollo after loosing to him in a music contest).

The nearly life-size statue was uncovered in 2009 by archaeologists and students from American Institute for Roman Culture who've spent several years "digging" Rome at Villa delle Vignacce, an ancient suburban villa about 15 minutes from Rome's busy center. The summer excavation program was funded by charitable donations from the American Express Foundation and Moore Capital.

After undergoing a four-year restoration by conservators Conart and the City of Rome, Marsyas is the latest addition to what is arguably Italy's most important collection of classical antiquities.

The Capitoline collection features the She Wolf, colossal Constantine heads, an equestrian Marcus Aurelius statue, the Thorn puller, bronze Hercules statues, and the remains of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, ancient Rome's most important temple... and now the colored Marsyas. Suffice it to say, the statue will be in good company.

The statue will be on display through February at the museums' Palazzo dei Conservatori before moving to the museum's Centrale Montemartini location.

Erica Firpo is a Rome-based writer and frequent contributor to