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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, Roman 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.

References
  • Ägyptens versunkene Schätze: 5. April 2007-27. Januar 2008, Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn (Heidelberg: Vernissage, 2007): 54, 421.
  • Jürgen Bischoff, 2000 ans sous les mers: Les découvertes de Franck Goddio en Egypte, photographs by Christoph Gerigk (Gottingen: Steidl, 2016): 19, 90, 112.
  • Sally-Ann Ashton, Ptolemaic Royal Sculpture from Egypt: The Interaction between Greek and Egyptian Traditions, BAR International Series 923 (Oxford: Archaeo Press, 2001): 66, cat. 2.6.
  • André Bernand and Franck Goddio, L'Égypte engloutie: Alexandrie, Sciences et Vie (Paris: Tania; London: Arcperiplus, 2002): 13, 118-119, 136-137.
  • Laura Foreman, Cleopatra’s Palace: In Search of a Legend (Del Mar, Italy: California: Discovery Books, 1999): 54-55, 154, 173, 180, 193..
  • Franck Goddio et al., Alexandria: The Submerged Royal Quarters, translated by Ludwig von Bomhard and Leonard Harrow (London: Periplus, 1998): 50, 176-178.
  •  
  • Franck Goddio and Hélène Constanty, Trésors engloutis: Journal de bord d'un archéologue (Paris: Ed. du Chêne, 2003): 122, 128-129.
  • Franck Goddio and Manfred Clauss, eds., Egypt’s Sunken Treasures, photographs by Christoph Gerigk (London: Prestel, 2006): 55-56, 452.
  • Zahi Hawass and Franck Goddio, Cleopatra: The Search of the Last Queen of Egypt (Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2010): 147.
  • Peter Higgs and Susan Walker, eds., Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth (London: British Museum Press, 2001): 174, cat. 172.
  • Michael Pfommmer and Ulrike Denis, Alexandria: Im Schatten der Pyramiden, Zaberns Bildbände zur Archäologie (Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1999): 17-18, fig. 25.
  • Angela M. H. Schuster, “Mapping Alexandria's Royal Quarters”, Archaeology 52, no. 2 (March-April 1999): 46, online e-article, https://www.jstor.org/stable/41771674
  • Paul Edmund Stanwick, Portraits of the Ptolemies: Greek Kings as Egyptian Pharaohs (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2003): 127, cat. G1.
  • Mona Serry, ed., Bibliotheca Alexandrina: Antiquities Museum, introduction by Ismail Serageldin (Alexandria: Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Antiquities Museum, 2015): 289, 338.
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