About this object

Relief sculpture of a male figure with a barbarian captive at his feet, in a smiting pose that is reminiscent of Egyptian art. The principal figure is bearded and wears a diadem tied around his head, and a Hellenistic leather cuirass with greaves. He holds a long triangular dagger (parazonium) and grasps the barbarian by the hair. Phalerae with Alexandrine cult busts of Sarapis (Bryaxis type) above and Harpocrates below are set on his chest and stomach. The barbarian/prisoner is fully bearded with long, thick hair and wears a tunic with a belt tied around his waist; his facial features are derived from the Bryaxis Sarapis. The group was carved in the second or third century A.D. and represents a traditional fusion of Graeco-Egyptian and Roman imperial iconography in an association suggesting the hero or ruler cults of the Faiyum region of Egypt. Riccomini and Porciani (2014) have suggested the identity of the Roman in armour is probably the emperor Caracalla responsible for the massacre of the population of Alexandria in the last years of his reign.

The relief is variously described as a Graeco-Egyptian god (Marianne Bergmann suggests the Thracian rider god, Heron); a Hellenistic ruler; or Roman Emperor (Dietrich von Bothmer and Cornelius Vermeule suggest Lucius Verus; Inge Hofmann suggests Hadrian; and Zolt Kiss suggests Septimius Severus). There is an illustration of the sculpture in the 19th century archives of the museum (Mayer Guard Book, p. 52) but the original accession number is not recorded and a new number was allocated in 1971. Compare with part of a marble colossal statue of a barbarian captive clutching the skirts of a standing figure from the Palace of Trajan, Ramleh, Egypt (British Museum registration number 1973,0330.5).

Object specifics

  • Type
    Art
  • Culture
    Romano-Egyptian
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date made
    2nd Century; 3rd Century AD
  • Materials
    Marble
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Joseph Mayer
  • Collector
    Joseph Mayer
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date collected
    1867
  • Measurements
    500 mm x 350 mm x 24.5 kg
  • Related people
    Joseph Mayer (Collector, previous owner)

Explore related

Publications

  • 'A continuation of the Smiting Scene' in Artibus Aegypti: Studia in Honorem Bernardi V. Bothmer

    Hall, Emma Swan

    Author: Hall, Emma Swan
    Publisher: Musées royaux d'art et d'histoire
    Date: 1983
    Description: Emma Swan Hall, 'A continuation of the Smiting Scene', in 'Artibus Aegypti: Studia in Honorem Bernardi V. Bothmer' (Brussels,1983) pp. 75-79.

  • Ägypten Griechenland Rom. Abwehr und Berührung

    Beck, Herbert; Bol, Peter; Bückling, Maraike (editors)

    Author: Beck, Herbert; Bol, Peter; Bückling, Maraike (editors)
    Publisher: Wasmuth Verlag
    Date: 2005
    Description: Catalogue of the exhibition "Egypt, Greece and Rome: Defense and Contact", 26 November 2005 - 26 February 2006.

  • Der bärtige Triumphator

    Hofmann, I

    Author: Hofmann, I
    Publisher:
    Date: 1984
    Description:

  • Etudes sur le portrait impérial romain en Egypte

    Kiss, Zsolt

    Author: Kiss, Zsolt
    Publisher: Varsovie
    Date: 1984
    Description: Part of the series: Travaux du Centre d'archéologie méditerranéenne de l'Académie polonaise des sciences = Prace Zakładu archeologii śródziemnomorskiej Polskiej Akademii nauk, 23

  • Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae

    Author:
    Publisher: Artemis
    Date: 1981
    Description:

  • 'Little Emperors' in D.M. Bailey (ed.), Archaeological research in Roman Egypt, the proceedings of the Seventeenth Classical Colloquium of the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum (Ann Arbor; 1996).

    Bailey, Donald

    Author: Bailey, Donald
    Publisher: Journal of Roman Archaeology: Supplementary Series vol. 19
    Date: 1996
    Description:

  • Notes on a New Edition of Michaelis: Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Vermeule, C; von Bothmer, D

    Author: Vermeule, C; von Bothmer, D
    Publisher:
    Date: 1959-04
    Description:

  • 'Su una statuetta con imperatore e barbaro nel Museo di Antichità di Torino' in Archeologia Classica vol. LXV - n.s. II, 4

    Riccomini, Anna Maria and Porciani, Leone

    Author: Riccomini, Anna Maria and Porciani, Leone
    Publisher: Sapienza Università di Roma
    Date: 2014
    Description: Riccomini, Anna Maria, 'Su una statuetta con imperatore e barbaro nel Museo di Antichità di Torino' in Archeologia Classica vol. LXV - n.s. II, 4 (2014) pp.499-512.

  • What is a King To Do: an Investigation of Images of Kingship

    Dixon, Grant

    Author: Dixon, Grant
    Publisher: University of Southern California
    Date: 2012
    Description: https://dornsife.usc.edu/what-is-a-king-to-do/comparanda/ [accessed 29 July 2014]

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Joseph Mayer

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1867
    Disposal method: Donation
Object view = Humanities
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