The 14 excavation campaigns conducted between the 1960s and 1980s by the Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino unearthed over 9000 fragments of terracotta statuettes. Due to its abundance and historical interest, this is an exceptional find that could potentially yield an extraordinary amount of information: in fact, the terracotta figurines from Seleucia attest to the depth of the Greek cultural influence from every point of view (iconographic, technical, stylistic) and, at the same time, to the strength and vitality of local traditions.
The influence of Hellenistic culture is decidedly clear and is especially evident in the introduction of subjects that did not belong to the traditional Mesopotamian repertoire (Greek gods, athletes, young boys, theatrical masks…) and in the diffusion of double cast and composite cast production methods.
The reception of these new elements by local artisans led to the iconographic and formal renewal of a production that anyhow remained largely tied to the tastes and needs of the local population: traditional subjects were therefore cast from two moulds (as in the case of the nude female figures with the arms along their sides) or wore Greek dress (as in the case, for example, of nurses and many horsemen).
The research activities conducted in recent years on the Seleucian artefacts led to the creation and compilation of a relational database, an invaluable instrument for organizing such a huge amount of materials, making its information immediately usable. The images and technical data (level at which the artefacts were found, size, crafting techniques, missing parts) relative to each individual object were input into a more complex structure, in which the material was ordered according to two main criteria, i.e. the area in which the artefacts were found and their iconographic features.
The second stage of the project, currently underway, includes the preparation of a complete catalogue, documenting the pieces from the Italian excavations and the approximately 3000 pieces unearthed during the American excavations in the 1920s and 1930s that are preserved in the Kelsey Museum in Ann Arbor, which were already the object of a 1930s publication.