A Marble Head from Minturnæ

Originally Published in 1933

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THE interesting head shown in Plate V is one of the sculptural finds from last season’s work at Minturnæ. It represents a dignified god of middle age, with thick, wavy hair and a curly beard. There are several divinities in classical theology who would answer to this description, but from the benignity of the countenance Aesculapius, God of Healing, is much more satisfactory for the identification than either Jupiter or Neptune.

Plate V — Marble Head of a God from Minturnæ, Italy
Museum Object Number: 39-42-1
Image Number: 3274

The head is broken off at the neck, but at such an angle that it is impossible to determine whether it formed one piece with the statue or was an insert into the neck of a separate torso. The top and back of the hair are blocked out impressionistically, but not finished, so that we may assume that the god stood with his back to the wall of a building. The preservation is, in general, excellent, only the tip of the nose and the ridges of hair having suffered serious abrasions.

This head of Aesculapius was found on the classical ground level at the southwest corner of a temple which was erected about 45 or 40 B. C. and which has been tentatively called the Temple of Julius Caesar. It seems possible that the statue once stood in the vestibule of this temple, along with a number of other work of art, one of which Dr. Johnson described in the last issue of the Bulletin. The head is not to be dated in the period of Caesar, however, as the incision of the pupils of the eyes and the thoroughgoing use of the drill to obtain deep, black shadows in and under the hair point rather to a date in the third century A. D. The head was presented to Mr. Gustav Oberlaender by the Italian Government in recognition of his assistance in launching the excavations at Minturnæ.

The new season of the Minturnæ Expedition began the latter part of March. Dr. Johnson, the field director, plans to resume work simultaneously in the theatre and in the forum of the Imperial city, while proceeding with cautious soundings in the sixth century (B.C.) strata of the pre-Roman city which lies to the east of the present excavations, on the bank of the River Liris. It is hoped that we will shortly have fresh news from this exceedingly fertile archaeological deposit.

The splendid mask of the Augustan period from Minturnæ which is the subject of our cover design this month will receive in the near future the more complete publication that it merits.

Cite This Article

"A Marble Head from Minturnæ." Museum Bulletin IV, no. 3 (April, 1933): -67. Accessed July 24, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/1116/


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