• r2-206-10
    Fragment of female head, frontal view. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Corinthian Head Capital from Screen Colonnade: Fragment of Female Head

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 / N55 *97.60

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 was turned to the r. and seen at a strong angle. Although the break cuts off most of the r. side of the face, it can still be seen that the head was slightly flattened, as if in high relief. The forehead is made triangular by the hair, which is parted in the middle and swept to the sides. Short running drill channels indicate the waves in the hair. The nose is broken at the tip, but the impression of wide flaring nostrils remains. The lips are parted. The chin is round and classical.

Despite the flattened effect of the turned head, the findspot and the size of the head, comparable to the others, point to the likelihood that this head of perhaps a maenad or Hera belongs to the series from the MC screen colonnade. Also the slightly rough finish of the stone is typical of most of these capitals.

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



R. side of face missing; also head is sliced off at back.

H. 0.23; W. 0.19; Th. at top 0.075.
See Also
Published: BASOR162, 44, fig. 27; Hanfmann-Detweiler, Heights of Sardis, 10-11, fig. 14; Hirschland, Head Capitals, 19, no. 11, pl. 7b; Beat Brenk, Datierung der Reliefs, 242, fig. 1 Brinkerhoff, Antioch, 39, n.165, compares it to heads from Antioch and Smyrna.