Researchers have discovered in Jordan two marble statues of the mythological goddess Aphrodite - the Graeco-Roman goddess of love -- that probably date to the second century A.D.
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The team found the pieces while excavating domestic structures in the ancient Nabatean city of Petra, one of the world's most famous archaeological sites.
"I've been doing field work in the Middle East for 45 years and never had a find of this significance," said one of the researchers Tom Parker, Professor at North Carolina State University in the US.
"These are worthy of display at the Louvre Museum or the Metropolitan Museum of Art," Parker noted in a university statement.
The statues are largely intact from pedestal to shoulders.
Both statue heads and much of their upper extremities were also recovered at the site.
This year's dig marked the third season of the Petra North Ridge Project, an initiative aimed at uncovering clues about the ancient city's non-elite population.
The team was digging what they thought was an ordinary home this summer when they came across something much more.
The house was more like an urban villa, Parker said, equipped with its own sophisticated bath house.
The team found the fragmented statues next to the home's staircase.
"Even though they weren't exactly what we were looking for, these finds still tell us a lot about the population," Parker said.
The marble statues are Roman in style, which provide additional insight to the cultural impact of Rome's annexation of Nabataea in 106 A.D., the researchers said.