Archive for August 13th, 2008

Faustina’s colossal head

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Belgian Archaeologists digging in Turkey have found the head of a colossal statue of the empress Faustina, wife of Roman emperor Antonius Pius.

She was found just a few meters from where another colossus, this one of Hadrian and currently on exhibit in the British Museum, was discovered last year: in the frigidarium of the Roman Baths at Sagalassos.

Last year’s discoveries suggested more statues of people belonging to the circles around Hadrian, such as his wife Vibia Sabina or his male lover Antinoüs, might be found here. The team even initially thought that this year’s find was probably Vibia Sabina, who was only 14 years old when she was forced into marriage with Hadrian. But it was clear once the head, which was face down, was turned over, that it represented a woman more mature than as Sabina was usually portrayed.

The head has large, almond-shaped eyes (only the tear ducts are rendered, not the iris or pupils as became usual during the reign of Hadrian) and fleshy thick lips. Its hair is parted in the middle of the front and taken in wavy strains below and around the ears toward the back. The rendering of the hair was done with only sparing sparing use of the drill, a feature characteristic for portraits of empresses in this, the Antonine, dynasty, in sharp contrast with the beards and curly hairs of their husbands. On top of the head is a circlet, a feature typical for most of Sabina’s portraits, yet in this case the whole physiognomy of the face clearly indicates it is the empress Faustina the Elder, wife of Hadrian’s successor Antoninus Pius.

Faustina and Antonius Pius were married for 31 years and had 4 children, only one of whom — a daughter and future empress — survived to adulthood. By all accounts their marriage was a very happy one. Antonius Pius deified her upon her death in 141 A.D., struck several coins dedicated to the Divine Faustina, built a temple in her name and started a charity for orphans called “Faustina’s Girls”.

Sweet, neh? :love:






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