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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Head of a Ptolemaic queen in glazed composition.
    This beautifully modelled head has large eyes, a long, aquiline nose and prominent Venus rings around the neck. The hair is arranged in a melon coiffure, over which is worn a floral wreath, pendants and earrings.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 3rdC BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 5.8 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Walkers & Higgs 2001

    The facial features are so closely parallelled with portraits on faience oinochoai (jugs) and coins showing Arsinoe II (reigned 278-270 BC) as to make identification with that queen likely. The head cannot have come from a full-length statuette of the queen, since the bottom of the neck is finished off smoothly, though it could have been combined with other elements either made from faience, or combined with another material. The original context for such a figure is uncertain, but the high quality of this piece suggests that it was a fairly important dedication, perhaps for the cult of Arsinoe II.
    The aquamarine colour of the faience was enhanced by the addition of other coloured decoration. No additional colouring on hair, perhaps implying queen was a blonde, while yellow is used on wreath and brows, and probably earrings, to represent gold; the wreath may also have been gilded. There is a dark colour on the eyeballs, and a line over the lids. The lips were probably also painted, although no pigment survives.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Gardner, Naukratis II (London 1888) 86; D.B.Thompson, Ptolemaic Oinochoai and Portraits in Faience (Oxford 1973), cat. no. 270.Roman Pottery

    Walters, Ancient Pottery, i. p. 129, pl. 10, fig. 1.
    The resemblance of the head, especially in the treatment of the hair, to that of Berenike II on coins, has been noted.


  • Bibliography

    • Walker & Higgs 2001 8 bibliographic details
    • Roman Pottery K7 bibliographic details
    • Villing et al 2013-2015 ON.01 bibliographic details
    • Gardner 1888 pl. XVII, no. 11 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G22/dc8

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Greek & Roman Antiquities

  • Registration number


COMPASS Image Caption: Faience head of Arsinoe II  From Naukratis, Egypt, 3rd century BC


COMPASS Image Caption: Faience head of Arsinoe II From Naukratis, Egypt, 3rd century BC

Image description



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Object reference number: GAA8240

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