BMCR 2007.04.43

Classical Sculpture: Catalogue of the Cypriot, Greek, and Roman Stone Sculpture in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

, , Classical sculpture : catalogue of the Cypriot, Greek, and Roman stone sculpture in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Museum monograph ; no. 125. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2006. 1 online resource (xii, 331 pages) : illustrations, map.. ISBN 9781934536292 $59.95.

Table of Contents

This catalogue presents the permanent classical sculpture holdings of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (hereafter UPM). There are 154 entries, each clearly illustrated in black and white, and listing previous publications and full commentaries. The collection is drawn from different parts of the ancient world, from Italy to Mesopotamia. The earliest piece is a sixth century BCE limestone head from the temenos of Artemis-Kybele at Akhna on Cyprus (no. 1) and one of the latest a possible portrait of Constantius II from El Bab (ancient Batna) in Syria (no. 112).

One of the strengths of this collection, and thus the catalogue, is the fact that so many pieces, around 90 percent, come from named find-spots, some from scientific excavations. This contrasts with pieces in contemporary private and public collections of classical art where only some 25 per cent are associated with named find-spots (including the vague “said to be” or “probably”).1 Among the finds from Pennsylvania field projects were those from George McFadden’s excavations at the sanctuary of Apollo at Kourion including a standing male statue which reflects Near Eastern influence (no. 11). These complement earlier pieces that had been acquired in the late nineteenth century by Max Ohnefalsch-Richter from Akna (no. 1), Chytroi (no. 7), Idalion (nos. 3, 5, 6), and Kition (no. 4).

In Italy a series of eight heads (nos. 83-90) come from sponsored excavations (1931-33) at Colonia Minturnae on the Via Appia under Jotham Johnson. Four of the portrait heads, including one of Germanicus (no. 85), were found in Temple B, identified as the Caesareum. A marble Venus of the Capitoline type came from the baths at Teanum Sidicinum in Campania (no. 91), where UPM was represented by Leonard Woolley who had just resigned from the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.2 The sculptures from the sanctuary of Diana Nemorensis, Lake Nemi (nos. 44-82) were purchased in 1896 through Arthur L. Frothingham of the (then) American Academy in Rome and exported under license from the Italian authorities.

Looking to the eastern Mediterranean, UPM sponsored the excavations at Beth Shean from 1921 to 1933.3 Among the finds are several fingers and a possible thumb from a colossal statue (no. 93). The fragments were found on the Tell and may perhaps be associated with a possible temple of Dionysos / Bacchus. There is a series of male and female funerary portraits associated with the northern cemetery (nos. 95-100). The impressive group of material from Palmyra (nos. 130-154) was in part obtained in 1889-90 by the Rev. John Punnett Peters of the Episcopal Divinity School of Philadelphia as part of the Nippur expedition.4 Two pieces, the head from a Tyche (no. 148) and the upper part of an Aphrodite (no. 149) were purchased by John Henry Haynes in northern Syria, probably during the Nippur project. A limestone portrait, perhaps of the late Severan period, was found at Hierapolis and was probably funerary in character (no. 104). A further sculpture from a scientific excavation is the Syenite colossal portrait of Caracalla which was excavated by Flinders Petrie on the steps of the Second Pylon of the Temple of Isis at Koptos (no. 110). This is placed in the context of Caracalla’s visit to Egypt c. 215 (not 115; p. 225). One of the more interesting North African find-spots is a late Hellenistic marble statue of Aphrodite Anadyomene which is reported to have been found “in the ruins near Ai es-Selmani” near Benghazi, Cyrenaica in 1902 (no. 29). Coin evidence suggests that the Greek settlement of Euesperides was abandoned by the middle of the third century BCE.5 If the Aphrodite is indeed late Hellenistic it should be associated with the Ptolemaic foundation of Berenike, though the statue may perhaps have come from a sanctuary in the abandoned (and dismantled) former urban site.

Among the finds from Turkey are two pieces from Kayseri (Caesarea Cappadociae) which surfaced on the market in Constantinople in 1895: a marble head of a priest of the imperial cult perhaps dating to the Antonine period (no. 108), and a statue of Venus (no. 113). These were acquired at the same time as a marble head of Agrippina I or Agrippina II “said to have been found along the shores of the Dardanelles near Troy” (no. 103). R. treats Vermeule’s suggestion that the head came from a Julio-Claudian monument at Troy with caution (p. 209). R. seems reluctant to use the modern designation “Turkey” preferring “Asia Minor”. This choice perhaps comes clear with the poignant find-spots recorded for two funerary stelai, one first century BCE and the other early imperial, which were both said to have been “picked up on the retreat of the Greeks from Smyrna in 1921” (nos. 24 and 26).

The lack of find-spot can raise issues. Does the fact that a fragmentary black basalt head of a priest of Isis was acquired at Rome in the 1890s necessarily imply that “the head was probably originally from a sanctuary of Isis in Rome or elsewhere in Italy” (no. 107)? It is certainly possible, but to what extent were sculptures from Egypt itself circulating on the Rome market in the late nineteenth century? Other find-spots are not always easy to interpret. The marble statuette of a Hermaphrodite was said by Ohnefalsch-Richter to have come from “Erytraea”, perhaps to be understood as Erythrai (no. 34). The find-spot of Lamptrai for a fourth century BCE Attic grave stele is inferred from the inscription which twice gives the demotic Lamptreus (no. 22; IG II 2 11911). The reported find-spot of Cyprus for an Attic funerary stele, purchased in 1926, is plausible (though not necessarily accurate) given the discovery of other Attic stelai on the island.6

There is a brief introductory section on the collectors as part of the preface (pp. ix-xii) though a separate index of former owners and donors would have been useful. Such information is invaluable when it comes to working out the histories of collecting classical antiquities in Europe and North America.7 Several pieces had formed part of the Edward Perry Warren (1860-1928) collection at Lewes House in East Sussex. Among them was the portrait of Menander found in the remains of a Roman villa at Montecelio in Latium in 1897, and purchased by Warren on the Roman market (no. 43). Among the Rome-based dealers represented in the collection was Alfredo Barsanti who supplied a life-sized (probably Carrara) marble naked male statue found outside the Porta Pia in Rome in 1902 (no. 116). One of the few skeletons in the cupboard is the head of a helmeted legionary said to have come from Rome (no. 122). Tellingly the piece was acquired by Robert Hecht in Rome and subsequently purchased from Hesperia Art; the date of 1954 puts it long before the 1970 UNESCO Convention.8

Five pieces in the catalogue are placed in the category of Uncertain Works or Forgeries (nos. 125-129). These include a marble statuette of a standing female “said to have been found while digging foundations for a building on the via Salaria in Rome” and subsequently purchased in 1926 (no. 125). It is a good reminder that “said to be” or “alleged” find-spots are not always accurate.

R. has made space in the catalogue for detailed discussions. The Trajanic relief with a Domitianic inscription from Puteoli (no. 123) is given nearly twelve pages, and the study develops earlier work by Harriet Flower.9 The inscription consisted of eleven lines of erased text which can be dated to the period between September 95 and September 96; the context, implied by the colony “having been moved closer to his city” (sc. Rome) ( urbi eius admota), seems to have been the completion of the Via Domitiana in 95. The verso was recut as a relief which fits a further relief block found at Puteoli in 1801 and now in Berlin. These reliefs appear to show members of the Praetorian Guard. Theories about the Trajanic structure are reviewed, including the possibility of a triumphal arch, but it may perhaps be best interpreted as part of a monumental altar.

This catalogue follows the reopening of the museum’s classical galleries, “Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans” (2003) ( on-line exhibition). Fifty-four images of the exhibition are found on an accompanying CD-ROM which are saved as a single pdf file. There are several pictures of the installation, though fig. 2 illustrating the Hellenistic World includes a possible nineteenth century copy or forgery (no. 125). Colour images of selected sculptures are included. The context for the pieces is enhanced by a series of site plans and photographs. These include a site plan of the sanctuary of Apollo Hylates at Kourion (fig. 5), a useful view looking down at the sanctuary of Diana Nemorensis (fig. 18) along with a plan from the 1885 excavations (fig. 19), a plan of the 1930s excavations at Colonia Minturnae (fig. 31), and a limestone capital at Beth Shean (figs. 33-34; compare no. 94 from the UPM excavations).

R. has produced a well-structured and well-designed catalogue of classical sculptures. These pieces arrived at UPM mainly through archaeological fieldwork and this adds to the value of R.’s research and commentary which has been able to draw on specific contexts. This reviewer has been stimulated to further study by this superb volume which will help to confirm UPM as “one of the world’s great archaeology museums” (p. viii).


1. C. Chippindale and D. W. J. Gill, “Material Consequences of Contemporary Classical Collecting”, American Journal of Archaeology 104 (2000), 463-511, esp. 476, Table 5; C. Chippindale, D. W. J. Gill, E. Salter, and C. Hamilton, “Collecting the Classical World: First Steps in a Quantitative History.” International Journal of Cultural Property 10 (2001), 1-31.

2. H. V. F. Winstone, Woolley of Ur: the Life of Sir Leonard Woolley, London: Secker & Warburg, 1990, 23.

3. For the context: P. J. King, American Archaeology in the Mideast: a History of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Philadelphia, 1983, 77.

4. King, American Archaeology in the Mideast, 12-13.

5. For the colony: D. W. J. Gill, “Euesperides: Cyrenaica and its Contacts with the Outside World”, in K. Lomas (ed.), Greek Identity in the Western Mediterranean: Papers in Honour of Brian Shefton, Mnemosyne Supplementa vol. 246, Leiden: Brill, 2004, 391-409.

6. For another example found at Marion by the Cyprus Exploration Fund: Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum GR.6.1890, L. Budde and R. V. Nicholls, Catalogue of Greek and Roman sculpture in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964, 14-15, pl. 7, no. 31.

7. S. L. Dyson, Ancient Marbles to American Shores: Classical Archaeology in the United States, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998.

8. For Hecht’s links with North American museums: David W.J. Gill and Christopher Chippindale, “From Boston to Rome: Reflections on Returning Antiquities”, International Journal of Cultural Property 13 (2006), 311-31.

9. H. I. Flower, “A Tale of Two Monuments: Domitian, Trajan, and Some Praetorians at Puteoli ( AE 1973, 137)”, American Journal of Archaeology 105 (2001), 625-48. The earlier reading of the erased inscription was by Kenneth Matthews.