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Marble portrait of a young boy as a worshipper of Isis


Height: 24.000 cm

Townley Collection

GR 1805.7-3.112 (Sculpture 1935)

    Marble portrait of a young boy as a worshipper of Isis

    Roman, about AD 150-200
    From Rome, Italy

    The boy's hairstyle suggests he was a worshipper of Isis, the Egyptian deity whose cult spread widely throughout the Roman Empire, especially after Rome's conquest of Egypt in 31 BC. The long locks of hair over the right ear are also found on representations of the son of Isis, Horus (also known as Harpocrates). The locks were worn by followers of Isis until they reached puberty, when they were ceremonially shaved off and offered to the goddess.

    Temples to Isis were set up in many cities throughout the empire. Outside Egypt, the largest and most splendid Iseum was in Rome, near the present church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The temple was built originally in the 40s BC, and may well have been dedicated by Julius Caesar perhaps at the time when Cleopatra was in Rome.

    S. Walker, Roman art (London, 1991)

    S. Walker and M. Bierbrier, Ancient faces: mummy portrai-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)