Roman Portrait Statuary from the Athenian Agora Excavations

Male portrait from Athenian Agora
Sheila Dillon

2014 to Present

The purpose of this project is to study and publish the full range of material remains of portrait statuary found in the American excavations of the Athenian Agora. The aim is to include all the identifiable fragments of portrait statuary: not only portrait heads, as is typical and customary in most studies of ancient portraiture, but also fragments of portrait statues, busts, and herms. Taking account of all the surviving fragmentary remains that we can confidently identify as once belonging to portrait statuary will enable us to present the full range of statue formats and costume preferences in Athenian portraiture. This is an aspect of Attic portraiture that has yet to be explored.

The portrait statuary found in the Agora represents an important body of evidence for understanding the history of portrait sculpture in the city of Athens. In fact, this material is the largest body of sculptural evidence for the subject from a single excavation area in the city. While not all of the material found in the Agora Excavations originally stood in the Agora, all of the material comes from the urban core of the city, which is itself a useful context for this study. This is a collaborative project involving current and former students.