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Collection Highlights

Colossal royal head

Colossal royal head
© BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk

Registration Number(s)
BAAM Serial Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum Number 1079

Inv.Inventory
 1015
Inv.Inventory
 (SCA) 88

where to find


Submerged Antiquities

Colossal royal head

Category:
Sculpture in the round, colossi
Date:
Graeco-Roman Period, Ptolemaic Period, 1st cent. BCE
Provenance:
Lower Egypt, Alexandria, Eastern Harbor
Material(s):
Rock, granite, gray granite
Height:
80 cm;
Width:
60 cm;
Depth:
50 cm
Hall:
Submerged Antiquities


Description

Head of a colossal statue, surmounted by the traditional Egyptian hairdress nemes, bearing both Greek and Egyptian features. The face is that of a youthful subject and is naturalistic in appearance, thus suggesting a Greek rather Egyptian model. The inclusion of the hair is not Egyptian, but a feature that appears on many of the Ptolemaic Statues with Greek features. Right over the forehead is a worn Egyptian uraeus. There are two holes in the nemes which would have once supported a diadem.

Statues of Youth

The similarity of this particular statue with others recognized as late Ptolemaic suggests that this subject is a late king of this period. The youthful appearance would be attributed to Cleopatra's elder son, Ptolemy XV, whom she had by Caesar and who was named Caesarion by the Alexandrians.

This Group of Ptolemaic statues, bearing both Egyptian and Greek features, began to be produced during the reign of Ptolemy V (204-180 BC) and continued to be made until the time of the last Ptolemaic ruler, Ptolemy XV. Some Roman Emperors even continued this tradition, but only sporadically and often in Rome.

There is also a number of statues of male rulers with youthful features, often interpreted as images of the first-century princes, wearing either the traditional nemes or diadem.


The information given here is subject to modification/update as a result of ongoing research.

Bibliography
  • Goddio, Franck ed. Egypt's Sunken Treasures. Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin: 13 May–4 September 2006. Munich: Prestel, 2006.
     
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