Portrait of a woman

Imperial Period
A.D. 230–240

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 372; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 115 (additional published references).


Height: 22 cm (8 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble from Göktepe, Turkey (near Aphrodisias)

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)


The Ancient World



The hairstyle shown here indicates that this lady was a contemporary of the later empresses of the Severan dynasty, Julia Mamaea (d. 325), mother of Severus Alexander (reigned A.D. 222-235) and his wife, Orbiana. This head may have been attached to a standing, fully draped statue set up in a public place in one of the cities throughout the empire where Romans lived.

The woman wears her hair waved around her forehead and caught up into a tightly coiled braid or braids behind, above the nape of her neck.

The nose, the upper part of the chin, the roll of braided hair behind the right ear, and a small piece over the left eye have been broken away. The surfaces, particularly the hair, show remains of a brown deposit, and a light yellow patina or coloring overlays the areas not affected by the incrustation.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8440: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.2 / delta18O -2.8,

Istituto di Struttura della Materia - CNR Lab No. 10 (January 30, 2012): maximum grain size: 0.5mm; electron paramagnetic resonance: intensity 7.6%, line width 70.4%

Attribution - Göktepe 3, Turkey (near Aphrodisias). Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain, pure white, low EPR intensity

Probability of correct quarry assignment (Istituto di Struttura della Materia - CNR Lab No. 10; January 30, 2012):

distance of sample from center of quarry probability field: 4.5; relative probability: 95%; absolute probability 48%


By 1969: with Robert E. Hecht, Jr.; gift of Robert E. Hecht, Jr. to MFA, April 8, 1970

Credit Line

Gift of Robert E. Hecht, Jr.