• r2-205-10
    Fragment of capital, depicting male head (Hermes?) with wings. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Corinthian Head Capital from Screen Colonnade: Fragment of Male Head with Wings

Early 3rd C. AD, Roman
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture Type
BE 60
B Marble Court
B-Grid Coordinates
E30 / N54.50 *99.75 - 98.50

The series of head capitals belongs to the “screen colonnade” of ten double-engaged columns between the Imperial cult hall or “Marble Court,” MC, and the palaestra, Pa, at the E side of the Roman Gymnasium, B (see Fig. 4; Yegül, Bath Gymnasium Diss., 99). The colonnade is an integral part of the Court, and therefore must be dated to the same period. A monumental inscription on the architrave of the building is dedicated to Julia Domna, Caracalla, and Geta (name erased), and therefore must be dated to A.D. 211-212, the joint regnal year of Caracalla and Geta (BASOR 162, 42; Hirschland, Head Capitals). The other capitals in this series come from closely related colonnades--the screen in front of the hall to the N of MC, designated BE-N (Cat. 197, Cat. 209 Fig. 349-350, 367-368) and the Pa colonnade (Cat. 207, Cat. 208 Figs. 364-366). Some of the capitals, and casts of others, have been erected in the monumental reconstruction of this complex (Figs. 347-348; see also Hanfmann, Letters, 278, figs. 208-210).

There seems to be a major Dionysiac theme in the group of heads which survives: this includes Dionysus, maenads, and satyrs; in addition there are several heads of other divinities from the Olympian pantheon. Another thread which runs through this group is a series of references to Caracalla. Two of the heads may show an actual resemblance to him (Cat. 198 Figs. 351-352, Dionysus; Cat. 205 Fig. 362, Hermes) and a third (Cat. 204 Figs. 359-361) is reminiscent of Alexander the Great, for whom Caracalla had great admiration and whom he tried to emulate (M. Bieber, Alexander the Great, 76; L’Orange, Apotheosis, 39).

The head has been sliced off from its capital, so that it is roughly flat at the back. The top of the head is flat, an extension of the top of the capital. The tips of acanthus leaves still envelop the neck. The head had a squarish chin. Hair is carved with two noticeable drill marks in the center and also a third one to the side. Two small wings are also visible to r. and l. of the center of the hair. The forehead has incised wrinkles. The eyes have heavy upper and lower lids and strongly marked pupils made by drilling. The irises are incised. Nose and lips are missing, but it is clear that the mouth was open. A chiseled line separates jaw from neck.

Workmanship is summary, but the important features (hair, eyes, mouth) were strongly indicated so as to be effective to the observer far below. The piece represents possibly Hermes or Perseus; the features are reminiscent of Caracalla.

See also Cat. 198, Cat. 199, Cat. 200, Cat. 201, Cat. 202, Cat. 203, Cat. 204, Cat. 205, Cat. 206.



Entire head preserved, as well as neck and small part of foliage from capital.

H. 0.32, of head 0.23; W. 0.203.
See Also
Published: BASOR162, 45, fig. 28; Hirschland, Head Capitals, 19, no. 12, pl. 8c. For similarity to Caracalla, see Vermeule, Imperial Art fig. 163.