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    Portrait of Sabina (?), Manisa 3. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)
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    Portrait of Sabina (?), Manisa 3, left profile. (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

Portrait of Sabina (?)

Ca. 120 AD?, Roman
Manisa, Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, 3
Museum Inventory No.
Sardis or Museum Inv. No.
Manisa 3
Marble, Stone
Object Type
Sculpture Type
Findspot unknown.

The portrait shows a lady wearing a diadem and a veil which hangs down on both sides of the head in several folds. The back of the veil is only very roughly worked, suggesting that the piece was intended for display against a wall.

The piece is mounted incorrectly, tilting the head too far backwards. The face is rounded, especially at the cheeks and chin. The mouth is small but full. The nose was straight and sharp. The eyes have small, sharply delineated lids and a slightly incised large arc for the iris. The brow is soft. The forehead is made triangular by the hair, which is parted in the middle and flows to both sides in soft waves which are tucked in beneath the veil. The ear lobes are just visible under the hairline. The neck has distinct bulges of flesh, one small, one broad, below the chin.

A striking similarity between the Sardis head and a portrait of Sabina from Perge (dated by İnan and Rosenbaum A.D. 120-121) indicates that this too must be Sabina. The shape of the face is the same, the features similar: the small, full mouth, the shape of the eyes. The Perge eyes do not have the incised iris, but there is an example in the Terme Museum in Rome where a Sabina portrait has the same kind of incisions, and she is very similar in the other features as well. The Perge Sabina and the Sardis head both have a drilled gully to separate the hairdo from the diadem, and the veil is also handled similarly. Even the double folds on the neck are the same. The date, on analogy with the Perge head, would be early in the reign of Hadrian.

Yellowish white marble. Head split into five adjoining parts. A diagonal break runs from the diadem to the back of the head. Neck also broken on a diagonal. Poorly mended at her I. temple, where veil meets diadem along a piece of iron, apparently ancient. The tip of the nose is missing.
H. 0.31; W. ca. 0.2; D. 0.235.
See Also
For Perge piece, İnan-Rosenbaum, Portrait Sculpture Asia Minor, 72-73, no. 36, pls. 19:3, 22; İnan, Antalya bolgesi Roma, 18ff., 65ff., pls. 7:2, 9:1, 9:2. For the Terme piece, cf. Wegner, Hadrian, pls. 45b, 47b, 48b. Hanfmann thinks the head Claudian.