• r2-102-10
    Fragment of head and neck of Zeus or Marcus Aurelius, front view. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-102-20
    Fragment of head and neck of Zeus or Marcus Aurelius, front view. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-102-30
    Fragment of head and neck of Zeus or Marcus Aurelius, back view. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
  • r2-102-40
    Fragment of head and neck of Zeus or Marcus Aurelius, after moving ()
  • r2-102-50
    Fragment of head and neck of Marcus Aurelius (Photograph by Larry J. Majewski.)
  • r2-102-60
    Fragment of head and neck of Zeus or Marcus Aurelius, side view. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Part of Head and Neck of Colossal Statue of Zeus (Hanfmann) or Marcus Aurelius

Date
2nd C. AD, Roman
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
S61.027.14
Material
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture
Sculpture Type
Human Figure, Colossal Imperial Portrait, Portrait
Site
Sardis
Sector
AT
Trench
AT
Locus
AT Precinct
Findspot
Originally found “on a much higher level [than the Lydian stelai] and a little to the south of the flank of the temple...Near by was discovered part of a hand on the same giant scale...and the upper joint of a huge thumb...” (Sardis I, 66f.). Rediscovered in August 1961 lying 3.5 S of AT S colonnade and taken to Sardis camp.
Description

It is possible to reconstruct the Zeus-like appearance. Position of nostrils, nose, and inner corners of the mouth suggests that the mouth was open, breathing. A wide moustache descended toward the sides to join the wide, fluffy beard. Three locks come down in a triangle from lower lip. Below it, the beard is largely battered away, the tip broken. Nostrils (inner) and part of outline of nose are visible. L. ear partly chiseled off. Moustache was parted in the middle of lower lip, not quite symmetrically. The mouth was a thin straight line, inner corners preserved. A plain mass of hair swells toward the back behind the ear on l. side. The head was turned to l., the neck muscle being tensed, well-rounded for the entire preserved height.

The technique is in classical Greek tradition. Raised, sculpted locks of hair and beard are subdivided by shallow chisel strokes. The moustache is outlined by deep chisel work, not drill. The beautiful, opaque effect of skin (due to smashed crystals?) and the sculptural building up of hair and beard as large rounded masses show that this is early Hellenistic work. One or two short passages done with drill are quite subsidiary.

[According to Hanfmann:] This may be part of the colossal image of Zeus, which stood in the E cella of the Artemis Temple. The image may have been conceived as mythological portrait of Achaeus, the only bearded Seleucid of that time, who held Sardis from 220-214 B.C. The image was an acrolith, built of several pieces, possibly seated like Zeus Olympios, protector of kings. It may have been begun under Achaeus and finished after his death (213-200 B.C.?). Such an assumption would be in keeping with the data from the coin hoard found within the base on which the statue would have stood. The quality of workmanship is superb.

That the head survived in part may indicate that the statue was broken up by Christians (a possible fragment, Cat. 103 Fig. 226, was built into Church M at the AT) and had stood until the 4th C. A.D. either in the cella, or, as Butler had suggested, outside the temple. Cf. supra, under Antoninus Pius (Cat. 79).

Condition

Large-grained white marble, originally golden yellow on buried side but subsequently weathered gray. Possibly local, according to D. Monna, and similar to that of the head of Antoninus Pius (Cat. 79 Figs. 196-197). Whitmore: compares to Sardis MD quarry group A.

Preserved from mid-nose to base of neck. Hollowed on the back for attachment. In front, the original surface survives only in two areas of cheeks near the nose, curls between mouth and beard on chin, and on both sides of neck.

At back of head (Fig. 225) the foot-shaped depression, D (L. 0.21; W. 0.10), has a central cutting (W. 0.5; H. 0.02; D. 0.04) for clamp. The clamp hole is cut on a slant. On his l. are two dowel holes, A and B (A: W. 0.035; L. 0.03 top, 0.04 bottom; D. 0.04 B: W. 0.035; L. 0.03-0.04; D. 0.04). A hole, C, for a circular pin from above is ca. 0.035 by 0.02; D 0.03. At the bottom of back, part of a rough-chiseled (picked) back pillar, roughened for cohesion by large point strokes, is for attachment of another vertical piece: W. 0.36-0.40; H. 0.45.

Dimensions
P.H. 1.05-1.10; P.W. 0.85. Mouth, inner corners, W. 0.105. H. chin beard to nostril 0.20, tip of beard to mouth 0.43. Max. W. of moustache 0.385, of neck 0.67, of beard 0.70 plus. These dimensions are very close to those of colossal head of Antoninus Pius (Cat. 79), about four times life-size.
Comments

For a discussion and literature on Hellenistic and Roman colossi, see Hanfmann, Croesus, 72-74, esp. n. 54.

Note: Members of the Butler Expedition (Buckler and Robinson, Sardis 7.1, 72) and more recent studies by R.R.R. Smith and others have concluded that this is not a Hellenistic statue of Achaeus as Zeus, as Prof. Hanfmann believed, but is the head of one of the Antonine emperors, most likely Marcus Aurelius, and belongs with the other colossal statues, of Antoninus Pius (Cat. 79), Faustina the Elder (Cat. 251), Commodus (found in 1996: Greenewalt and Rautman 2000, 675-676; see also Yegül, Temple of Artemis; About the Temple of Artemis), perhaps the head in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum (Cat. 252) and other pieces. Prof. Hanfmann also believed that the temple of Artemis was divided into two cellas during the Hellenistic period (Hanfmann and Waldbaum 1975, 74-87); this has been shown to be a later, Roman feature (Yegül, Temple of Artemis; About the Temple of Artemis; Cahill and Greenewalt 2016; Yegül, forthcoming). [NDC, 2015].

See Also
Bibliography
Published: Sardis I, 66, fig. 61;BASOR166, 34-35, fig. 27. Hanfmann, Letters, 127, fig. 92; Hanfmann, Sardis R1, 80, 81, fig. 148, discussion of E cella and base. Hanfmann, Croesus, 72 fig. 155. Coins of Achaeus: E. T. Newell, Seleucid Mints, 265, pl. 60:1-2.
Author
NHR