Browsing among the vast collection of Roman stones in the Great North Museum, ExplorAR came across this little beauty: a statue of the Roman god Mercury.
I’ve created a 3D model of him, which I’ve embedded below, so that you can spin him round and see him from all sides.
And speaking of sides, Mercury is a god with many of them: with his links to commerce, poetry, messages, travellers and trickery – not to mention a good sideline in guiding spirits to the underworld – it’s little wonder that there are many depictions of him.
Most of the depictions of Mercury show him with his caduceus, and this statue in Newcastle’s Great North Museum is no exception. Here’s the 3D model of the Great North Museum’s Mercury statue – click on the play button then drag the model around, or zoom in and out:
Mercury’s caduceus is his staff, given to him by Apollo, which you can see on the model in his left hand. This statue also shows Mercury as holding a purse in his right hand; not every depiction of Mercury has this, but it spawns from his links to trade and commerce. The animal next to him – a goat, according to the interpretation board – symbolises the underworld, while perched on his bonce is a petasus with wings, which is his traditional helmet (think the Interflora logo).
Much of the items with which Mercury is associated also belong to his Greek equivalent Hermes, showing the common links between the early incarnations of the two cultures’ religious beliefs.
This statue was found near Newcastle upon Tyne Fort and it’s worth noting that Mercury was among the more popular of the Roman gods in Britain and Gaul, possibly because he was more closely associated with some of their own, horned gods.
The Great North Museum’s collection of Roman statues and stones is well worth a visit, partly because it reflects the region’s close associations with the Romans but also because the museum does an excellent job of putting them into context, with reconstructions of parts of Hadrian’s Wall and insights into the hard lives of those who lived along the Roman Empire’s most northerly frontier.
ExplorAR specialises in 360 pictures and video, augmented reality, 3D modelling and virtual reality, with a particular focus on heritage sites. To find out more, contact ExplorAR.