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Goddess head

Thu, 08/01/2015 - 10:05 -- Laura
Tipologia: 
Brescia,Goddess head, Santa Giulia City Museum

The head was discovered in 1956 while excavating the site of a Roman theatre, between the so called “aula dei pilastrini” (pillars’ room) and the western entrance to the theatre.
It is a valuable and special object, even though the face is damaged especially around the nose, mouth and hair.
The head was part of the colossal statue of a goddess, sculpted according to the technique of acroliths that are sculptures created from assembled pieces. Such technique was particularly diffused in the Greek and Roman world for cult statues of colossal size: only the naked parts of the body were made of marble, the remainder was a sort of wooden structure concealed by drapery - often in painted plaster - or by gilding. 

The statue usually leaned on the back wall of the temple cell for balance: on top of this head there are two holes that witness the presence of linchpins used to keep the statue close to the wall due to its weight. The back of the head is partially sculpted and cut vertically because it was not meant to be seen. Even the hair is only sketched, because it was not visible given the statue’s height (probably 4.50 m if the statue was standing, or 3.50 m if seated).
The goddess unfortunately has not been identified because it lacks specific features, and the rest of the statue cannot be reconstructed since the only surviving fragment is a portion of possibly the neck. It certainly wore a metal crown inserted in a furrow on the head. The statue had to be seen from the right-hand side and from below because on the face can be recognized slight asymmetries due to perspective adjustments.
The image of divinities usually followed fixed patterns. It generally referred back to Greek models of the Classic and Hellenistic periods: the good quality of the final statue and the technique used point to a Greek artist that worked in Italy in the first half of the 1st century BC, a period when cult statues were particularly diffused in Italy, especially in Lazio region.
This date suggests that the original statue had to be a cult image located in the sanctuary of the republican period, probably inside the so called pillars’ room, which was an annex to the temple. Therefore it had to be an important element for tracing the history of one of the most important monuments of the city.

Goddess head
marble
height 62 cm
first half of the 1st century BC
found between the temple and the western entrance to the theatre in 1956
Brescia, Santa Giulia City Musem

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