A succinct and elegantly illustrated book on the Meroe Head of Augustus, a striking work of art with an intriguing historical context.
Made from Bronze with eyes inlaid with glass pupils set in metal rings, the 'Meroe Head' is a magnificent portrait of Julius Caesar's great nephew and adopted heir Augustus (63 BC–AD 14). Once forming part of a statue of Rome's revered first true emperor, the head was violently separated from the body and carried away in triumph by ancient Meroitic tribesman shortly after its creation. For nearly two millennia it remained buried in front of a temple in their capital city of Meroe (modern Sudan), so that worshippers ritually had to trample the face of the supreme leader of Rome. The head was recovered in 1910 and remarkably well preserved, is one of the British Museums most treasured objects.
This book reveals the significance of the head in the light of Augustus' rise to power and the role of portraits in the Roman world. Accompanied by a series of new photographs that highlight the wonderful, dramatic qualities of the head, this is an absorbing introduction to a Roman object, that like many others, was made as a continuous reminder of the all- embracing power of Rome and its emperor.
The author: Thorsten Opper is a curator of Greek and Roman Sculpture at the British Museum, specializing in ancient portraiture, the Greek world in the Roman period, and the collecting and restoration of ancient sculpture in the eighteenth century. Thorsten joined the British Museum in 2001 from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.