This magnificent bronze head from a statue has usually been interpreted as representing an eastern goddess, equated to the Greek Aphrodite. It has a majestic godlike beauty, simple but not severe. It is said to have been found at Satale, modern Sagagh, in north-eastern Turkey and originates from Greece, 2nd or 1st century BC.
In about 1872 a man digging his field on the site of ancient Satala struck with his pick-axe against this head. A bronze hand also lay nearby. The head made its way via Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and Italy to the dealer Alessandro Castellani, who eventually sold it to the British Museum. The hand was presented to the Museum a few years later. Despite rumours that the whole statue had previously been found, the body has never come to light. Although there is pick-axe damage to the top of the head, the face is well preserved. The eyes were originally inlaid with either precious stones or a glass paste, and the lips perhaps coated with a copper veneer.
The statue has been identified as a nude Aphrodite, her left hand pulling drapery from a support at her side, like the famous statue of Aphrodite at Knidos by the fourth-century sculptor Praxiteles. It has also been suggested that the statue represents the Iranian goddess Anahita, who was later assimilated with the Greek goddesses Aphrodite and Athena.
Moulded from the original in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities.