One of the most spectacular and photogenic locations at Ancient Salamis (see my earlier post) is the ruins of the Roman gymnasium. The colonnaded entrance to the gymnasium complex can be seen in my previous post.
These actual ruins date back to the second century and most probably to reign of Hadrian (117–138AD), but site has been used as gymnasium since the Hellenistic period (323-31BC). The gymnasium complex comprises a colonnaded square (restored in the 1950s), a small pool area, latrines and multiple headless statues. The gymnasium was an important part of Greek culture and was used for gymnastics, exercise, training, wrestling, public games and as a medical centre. However, they held much less importance for the Romans, who believed gymnastics were conducive to idleness and immorality.
It is not clear why all the statues are headless/faceless, but one theory is that they were removed by the early Christians who considered them “graven images”. Another theory is that the heads were simply destroyed by one of the many earthquakes that struck the region. It’s believed that the central plinth (as seen on the left of the photo) may have once housed a statue of Augustus.