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Colossal marble head of Asklepios


Height: 61.000 cm (approx.)

Blacas Collection

GR 1867.5-8.115 (Sculpture 550)

Room 22: Alexander the Great

    Colossal marble head of Asklepios

    Greek, about 325-300 BC
    Found on Mílos, Southern Aegean, Greece

    The healing god

    This head comes from a colossal statue of the god Asklepios, a god of medicine and healing. It was constructed from three separately worked pieces, of which two survive. The calm expression of the face is set off by a full beard and crown of hair. The lead pegs that would have held a gold wreath are still in place, but the wreath is now lost.

    The cult of Asklepios was popular throughout Greece and Asia Minor during the Classical period (480-300 BC) and the Hellenistic period (323-30 BC). Important centres were set up in Athens and at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese. Hippocrates was the founding father of modern scientific medicine and, following his death in 357 BC, a healing sanctuary was established on his native island of Cos. There, Asklepios was represented in what became the canonical manner of the later Hellenistic and Roman periods: bearded, semi-nude and supported on one side by a staff around which a serpent is coiled. This head probably comes from such a statue.

    B. Ashmole, 'The poise of the Blacas head', Annual of the British School a, 46 (1951), pp. 2-6


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