Archaeological Museum of Bologna

Museo Civico Archeologico
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Collections / Sections / Roman Bologna

Head-portrait of Octavia or Livia

This portrait, although very incomplete, is characterized by an exceptionally fineness certainly of imperial commission. The type of hairdressing, characteristic for the great tuft bulging on the forehead, a trend that starts from the middle of the first century BC and throughout the Augustan age, allows to attribute the portrait to a female character of the giulio-claudia family, in particular to Octavia, sister of Emperor Augustus and wife of Mark Antony that in Bologna had political followers.

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The head, once veiled and mounted on a statue, documents the presence of a series of statues in the basilica celebrating the emperor’s family and closely resembling those from the same period that were installed in other basilicas in the Roman world (such as Velleia, Otricoli, Corinth and Ephesus).

Provenance: Bologna, Palazzo Comunale, former Sala Borsa, 1920 excavation
Datation: Third quarter of 1st century BC
Material: greek marble
Dimensions: height cm 15
Inventory #: 4772

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