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figure

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1895,0408.1

  • Description

    Copper alloy figure of Hercules wearing a lion skin. Hercules is depicted as slender, beardless, round-faced and very youthful in appearance, and he wears his hair dressed in rows of tight, close-set curls.He is clothed in a sleeveless tunic and belt. The mask of the lion's spoils forms a hood, with the forepaws tied below the chin, while the rest of the pelt is worn as a cloak wound tight around the left arm which hands by his side. His other arm is raised and is likely originally to have held a club, now missing.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2ndC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 555 millimetres
    • Width: 200 millimetres
    • Weight: 12300 grammes
    • Diameter: 75 millimetres (base)
  • Curator's comments

    Gilded copper statuette of Hercules

    Roman Britain, 2nd century AD
    Said to be from Hadrian's Wall, near Birdoswald, Cumbria

    This large gilded statuette of Hercules, wearing a lion-skin, is unusual. Because there are no details of its date and place of discovery, it has been the subject of controversy in the past, including suggestions that it is not Roman at all, but Etruscan, Renaissance or even modern.

    Technologically the method of casting and gilding is known from the Roman period. It may have come from a military shrine, and the current interpretation is that the statuette is intended as a portrait of the Emperor Commodus (reigned AD 180-92), who in AD 191 began to identify himself with the hero Hercules.

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  • Bibliography

    • CSIR I, 6 no. 190 bibliographic details
    • Roman Britain 1964 p. 54, pl. 13.7 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G49/dc15

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    2015 30 May – 13 Sep, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum, Empire: Roman Power and People 2015 24 Jan – 10 May, Dundee, McManus Galleries, Empire: Roman Power and People 2014 20 Sep – 2015 4 Jan, Leeds City Museum, Empire: Roman Power and People 2014 17 May – 31 Aug, Coventry, The Herbert, Empire: Roman Power and People 2014 1 Feb – 27 Apr, Norwich Castle Museum, Empire: Roman Power and People 2013 21 Sep – 2014 12 Jan, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Empire: Roman Power and People 2007 3 Feb-27 May, Taipei, National Palace Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2006 18 Mar-4 Jun, Beijing, Capital Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2005 27 Oct-2006 31 Jan, Haengso Museum, Keimyung University, Daegu, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2005 25 Jul-8 Oct, Busan Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2005 11 Apr-10 Jul, Seoul Arts Centre, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 1995 20 May-12 Nov, Carlisle, Tullie House Museum, Birdoswald

  • Condition

    The club is missing and guilding has disappeared in a number of places, in particular the front of the thighs. Otherwise it is generally well preserved (CSIR I, 6).

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1895

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1895,0408.1


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