This bronze head is all that remains of a statue of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was constructed sometime between 118 and 121 AD in the Near East. It is Bronze, 34 centimeters tall, and made through lost wax casting.(Louvre Technical Description)
Technical EvaluationEditThis bronze statue of Emperor Hadrian was created through a technique called lost wax casting and then reworked after the bronze had finished cooling.
Lost wax casting, an ancient form of investment casting, begins with an object of the same shape as the desired metal figure. The artist makes a mold based upon this figure and fills the mold with molten wax. After the wax hardens it is removed from the mold. The artist now has a version of the original figure made out of wax.
The wax is then covered in some form of plaster which will not be immediately vaporized by the hot liquid metal which will be applied in the final step. Some holes must be left in the plaster mold so that when the figure is placed in a kiln the plaster will harden and the wax will melt out, leaving a heat-resistant mold of the original figure.
Finally the plaster figure is surrounded by a large amount of an even more heat-resistant material, often sand. Molten metal is then poured into the plaster figure and allowed to cool and harden. After this process is finished the artist removes the completed metal figure from the plaster and sand. Lost wax casting is nearly identical to modern investment casting and has remained almost unchanged for over 5,000 years.
The head alone of the statue is 34 centimeters tall, this suggests that the original bronze statue was perhaps 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) in height.
Local Historical ContextEdit
Hadrian traveled often during his reign, always moving with the Roman Military. During his travels he fostered further development of the empire, founding many new cities, building on and improving military fortifications, and giving large numbers of hand-outs.
In Britain Hadrian had an immense wall, one which remains to this day, built in order to seperate Roman Britannia from the "Barbaric" north. In Anatolia he negotiated peace with the Partian King. In Greece he built and finished large numbers of temples as well as established a new government of the Greek city-states called the Panhellenion . (Ronald Syme, 161) (Ileria Romeo, 21)
Hadrian promoted the wellbeing of those under his authority. He improved upon Trajan's programs to aid the poor and reformed the laws of Rome to forbid actions such as torture. He promoted the wellfare of the weak and the quality of life in his empire. (Fritz Pringsheim, 143)
One of the few places that had problems during the reign of Hadrian was Judea, though the problems there were significant. Hadrian visited Jeruselem and decided to rebuild it as a colony of Rome, hoping to foster the colonization of the region by non-natives. This as well as the laws enacted over the territory led to a massive Jewish rebellion with hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides. Hadrian's legions crushed the rebellion through brute force and banned Jews from Jerusalem, renamed as Aelia Capitola , of the newly renamed provice of Syria Palaestina. (Martin Goodman, 28) This was part of a long running series of confrontations with the Jews which would continue for years after his reign until the rise of Emperor Constantine.
He died in Rome after adopting Antonius Pius. (Edward Champlin, page 1) His last words a poem . (Aelius Spartianus, Hadrian 25. 9-10)
World Historical ContextEdit
Hadrian and the emperors of Rome Dominated the continent of Europe and shaped the cultural development of the region that would come to dominate the entire globe. The Roman Empire would persist for hundreds of years after his death, and the Byzantine Empire would last for over a thousand.
Depictions of authority figures such as Hadrian were, and are, one of the oldest and most common forms of media. They serve as reminders of authority as well as ways to foster support and diefy their subjects.
The lost wax casting technique was and would remain one of the most effective ways to produce metallic objects in variety of shapes. It has been, and still is, used to create enormous amounts of tools, weapons, and art.
Martin Goodman, Trajan and the Origins of Roman Hostillity to the Jews, Oxford University Press
Fritz Pringsheim, The Legal Policy and Reforms of Hadrian, The Journal of Roman Studies
Ronald Syme, Journals of Hadrian, Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH
Ilaria Romeo, The Panhellenion and Ethnic Identity in Hadrianic Greece, The University of Chigaco Press
Aelius Spartianus, Historia Augusta