Marble head of a member of the Hekatomnid dynasty

Greek, around 350 BC
Found in the cella of the Temple of Athena Polias, Priene, modern Turkey

Possibly Maussollos' sister Ada

The architectural details of the Temple of Athena at Priene are closely related to those of the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos: the architect Pytheos was responsible for both buildings. He was probably a sculptor as well as an architect and may have worked under Hekatomnid patronage at several sanctuaries. After the Mausoleum had been constructed, some of the stonemasons and sculptors probably accompanied Pytheos to Priene. The scale and design of this female head is similar to the colossal dynastic portraits that were set up on the Mausoleum. This close resemblance means that this head is probably a portrait of one of the female members of the Hekatomnid dynasty. Possibly Maussollos' sister and successor, Ada who ruled from 351 to 340 BC with her brother/husband Idreus, and on her own from 333 to 323 BC.

Apart from the obvious similarities between the face of this sculpture and some of the female heads from the Mausoleum, (as well as the male colossal portrait from the tomb building), this woman wears the same headdress as the Hekatomnid women. Her sakkos (sprang hair-net) preserves many traces of its painted lozenge-shaped and polka-dot design. Red pigment also survives in the hair, which may have been gilded, showing that the unusual snail-shell curls do not represent an actual hairstyle but a gold diadem.

The head was designed to be inserted into a draped body, and fragments of the garments may survive amongst the many pieces of sculpture found at Priene. Several pieces of drapery, again with stylistic affinities with the Mausoleum sculptures, have been assigned to this figure, all preserving painted designs.

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More information

Bibliography

S. Walker, Greek and Roman portraits (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

A.H. Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in -1, vol. 2 (London, British Museum, 1900)

J.C. Carter, The sculpture from the Sanctua (London, The British Museum Press, 1983)

Dimensions

Height: 17.000 inches

Museum number

GR 1870.3-20.138 (Sculpture 1151)

GAA9126

Location

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