A sculpted head of an African woman in the British Museum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In 1859, the British Museum acquired a carved marble head from Nathan Davis’ excavations in Tunisia. Registered as having been found at Carthage, it instead probably originated from Utica. This head has received almost no attention and has not even been mentioned in scholarship for over 100 years, despite its considerable fascination. It depicts a woman of African origin. The British Museum’s catalogue describes her as a black “Nubian”, but does not discuss her identification beyond this. In practice, subject’s ethnicity is far from clear, although the unusual form and size of the head suggest that it belongs with a remarkable group of herms bearing depictions of African peoples, that originate come from various Roman sites in Tunisia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-534
Number of pages35
JournalMitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Römische Abteilung
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sculpture
  • North Africa
  • herm
  • ethnicity


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