This bronze statue of a head was once part of a complete statue of Roman emperor Augustus. It was made by the Romans around 27- 25 B.C.E. and is 46.2 cm tall, 26.5 cm wide, and 29.4 cm deep. It originated in Roman occupied Egypt, but was found in the Sudan, near the ancient city of Meroe due to its capture by invading Meroitic tribesman.
The head and the larger statue it was attached to were made of bronze using a “Lost wax casting” design(10 Mattusch). This was done using an original model made of wax. In this form it could be adjusted easily before being casted. The model was then broken into pieces and coated in a layer of clay. Next the pieces were placed in pit with a fire meant to melt the wax and leave a hollow clay mold. The molten bronze was then poured into the hollow molds and allowed to cool. The last step was the piecing together of the parts which was done with soldering, which were then smoothed down or hidden behind artwork. This process was used by the Greeks to a small degree, but had widespread use by Roman craftsmen. Based on the statue's larger than life size, it was probably placed outside and would not have any excessively expensive decorations or metals inlaid, as they would have been exposed to the elements and theft. The materials used to make the bronze came from recycled Greek bronze items, materials from conquered peoples(particularily the Phoenicians), and from a large copper deposit in Spain. The head itself was found under a temple in Meroe in 1910 by professor John Garstang and it currently resides in the British History Museum in London, England.
Local Historical contextEdit
The head and statue were created by Romans, in the years following reunification of the Roman empire by the Roman general Octavian who later became Augustus. At the time, the recent events explain why the statue was created. Augustus defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium(Everitt,185). He then went on to restore peace and stability to the new Roman Empire. This particular statue stood in a town near Aswan in Egypt and was probably built in commemoration of his victory and rule. The craftsmen who made this statue were definitely compensated for their work, as the making of statues was a common business in ancient Rome and at this time was mainly controlled by conservative government contractors(Strong,17).
World Historical SignificanceEdit
This object was like many others in its time yet the location of where it was found and by whom it was put there, gives it significance. In around 25 B.C.E. Nubians just south of Egypt raided into the nearby Egyptian towns and took many statues. Romans reclaimed many by force and many more still in a peace treaty that was made a few years later in 22 B.C.E.. Yet this head was buried under the steps of a temple, which showed much disrespect to the reigning emperor. Despite the recent treaty, from which the Nubians benefited greatly, the placement of the head show a defiance to Roman rule.
Everitt, Anthony. Augustus. 1st. New York: Random House, 2006. 185. Print.
Mattusch, Carol. Classical Bronzes the Art and Craft of Greek and Roman Statuary. 1st. Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1996. 10. Print.
Strong, Donald. Roman Imperial Sculpture. 1st. London: Alec Trianti Ltd., 1961. 17. Print.