Herm of Zeus Ammon


About this object

Herm of Zeus Ammon, part man, part beast, the head sits on a herm support which although extensively restored reflects the work's original format. Zeus Ammon was a syncretic deity of early classical origins. The facial features are human but the ears and the coiling of the ram's horns are bestial. The hair looks old fashioned in style, especially the roll at the back and the locks over the forehead which is combed in a flat pattern. The narrow eyes, the planar forehead, low brow and long moustache are features of early classical Greek art. A narrow hair band runs above the forehead, encircling the head and hanging down below the shoulders gives the head a religious aura. The open mouth seems to indicate to the oracle power of Jupiter.

In Roman times decoration with herms was extremely popular and the shafts with their supports helped define the space in gardens and domestic interiors. Jupiter Ammon was also an important religious figure for the Romans and very different to the classical Greek cult figure of Zeus. Jupiter Ammon was a tutelary deity of Alexander the Great and posthumous images of Alexander depict him with the horns of Ammon. Roman rulers used Jupiter Ammon as decoration on their armour and for its protective powers as well as for asserting the supremacy of the military.

Blundell falsely saw the name Ammon as Greek than Egyptian but he sensed the ideological power of the image.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy
  • Date made
    1st Century AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    310 mm x 200 mm x 180 mm
  • Note
    Said to have been found at Nettuno. Formerly belonged to Cardinal Alessandro Albani. Bought by Blundell from Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. Bartman accepted earlier scholars' observation about similarities with a herm in Kenwood and in the Vatican's Chiaramonti. There is a related herm in Copenhagen without horns which may have been broken. Bartman also identified similaries with a Munich herm of Jupiter Ammon but considered the Munich example to be more archaic than the Ince. The two may be different versions from the same workshop. Bartman believed the type to have been created originally as a herm form. Bartman finds the appearance of Jupiter Ammon in the entablure of the Forum Augustum in Rome closer to the Ince one and suggested that the horned head may represent the exotic East or Egypt, and signified for the Empire forged by Augustus.
  • Related people
    Alessandro Albani ( Previous owner); Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Bartolomeo Cavaceppi ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


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Previous owners

  • Bartolomeo Cavaceppi

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Alessandro Albani

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Joseph William Col Sir Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: By descent
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
Object view = Humanities
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