• During the older excavation of Messene by Anastasios Orlandos a quite original smaller than life-size marble statue of a Roman emperor wearing a short tunic and holding in his left hand the orb had been located and dated to the 4th c. AD. Further exploration of the area by Petros Themelis in the 1990s unearthed a magnificent Roman urban domus of large proportions and luxurious decoration. Near the find spot of the imperial portrait two more statues where recovered, portraying the gods Hermes and Artemis. These two along with the imperial portrait stood in the far end of the main hall of the domus, probably in niches inside the wall. The imperial portrait has been since then convincingly attributed to an emperor of the Constantinian dynasty, either Constantine himself (306-337 AD) or his son Constantine II (337-340 AD.) The final destruction of the domus can be dated by coins in the decade of 360, and has been largely connected with the earthquake of 365 AD. As such the composition of the three statues and the renovation of the domus has been dated sometime in the first half of the 4th c.

    Recently the discovery of an inscribed limestone statue base reused in a later Byzantine building sheds new light in the identification of the imperial portrait, the process of reuse and the dating of the final arrangement. The base bears two inscriptions on the two opposite sides. The first side commemorates the erection by the city of Messene of a statue of one of the Constantinian dynasty emperors, most probably Constantine II; while the other side commemorates the erection by the city a statue to emperor Valentinian I (364-374 AD). By examining the cutmarks on the plinth we can deduce that the marble imperial statue from the domus had been once the statue referred to by the Constantinian inscription, and that it was removed in the reign of Valentinian I in order for the base to host a new bronze statue.