Head of August from Meroe, Sudan
Bronze.
Ca. 27—25 BCE.
Height 47.75 cm.
London, The British Museum

Head of August from Meroe, Sudan.

Bronze.
Ca. 27—25 BCE.
Height 47.75 cm.

London, The British Museum

Origin:
Excavated by Professor Garstang.
Gift of the Sudan Excavation Committee aided by the National Art Collections Fund.
Description:
This head once formed part of a statue of the emperor Augustus (ruled 27 BC-AD 14). In 31 BC he defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium and took possession of Egypt, which became a Roman province. The writer Strabo tells us that statues of Augustus were erected in Egyptian towns near the first cataract of the Nile at Aswan and that an invading Kushite army looted many of them in 24 BC.

Although Roman couter-attackers reclaimed many of the statues, they did not reach Meroë, where this head was buried beneath the steps of a native temple dedicated to Victory. It seems likely that the head, having been cut from its statue, was placed there deliberately so as to be permanently below the feet of its Meroitic captors.

The head of Augustus appears larger than life, with perfect proportions based upon Classical Greek notions of ideal human form. His calm distant gaze, emphasized with inset eyes of glass and stone, give him an air of quiet, assured strength. Coins and statues were the main media for propagating the image of the Roman emperor. This statue, like many others throughout the Empire, was made as a continuous reminder of the all-embracing power of Rome and its emperor.

Literature:
S. Walker, Roman art (London, 1991), p. 31, fig. 32.
L. Burn, The British Museum book of Greek and Roman art, revised edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999), pp. 182—83, fig. 152.
S. Walker, Greek and Roman portraits (London, The British Museum Press, 1995), pp. 62—63, plate 6.
P. C. Roberts, Romans, a pocket treasury (London, The British Museum Press, 1996), pp. 16—17.
Credits:
© Photo, text: The British Museum
Keywords: γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό roman romana romano romani römisch römische römisches römischen römischer romain romaine romains romaines αυτοκρατορικό imperial imperiale kaiserliches impérial ρωμαίος αυτοκράτορας οκταβιανός αύγουστος imperator octavianus augustus roman emperor octavian august imperatore romano ottaviano augusto römischer kaiser empereur romain octave octavien auguste ιουλιο-κλαυδιανή δυναστεία iulio-claudia iulii-claudii julii-claudii the julio-claudian dynasty dinastia giulio-claudia julisch-claudische dynastie famille julio-claudienne julio-claudiens απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt roman romana römisches romain glassy paste eyes of glass bronze portrait head from meroe meroë sudan with protruding ears
History of Ancient Rome