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Marble Head of Athena

2nd century BC
Purchased in Cairo
MS 4026
Athena was the daughter of Zeus and originally a Mycenaean palace goddess. Her function later expanded to include the roles of guardian of cities, war goddess, patroness of arts and crafts, and promoter of wisdom. She is always shown modestly clothed and often armed. The owl is her special bird. The back of the sculpture seems deliberately cut and at least one rectangular hole looks ancient. This suggests that the head once formed part of a relief. Given its size, the unfinished appearance of the top of the helmet, and the foreshortening evident in its execution, the head may have been part of a sculpted pediment group, perhaps originally set up in Alexandria.
H. 30.0; W. 24.0; Th. 16.0 cm. Photo courtesy Mediterranean Section, Univ. of Pennsylvania Museum.

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