Portrait of an official

Early Byzantine Period
Late 5th–early 6th century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 382; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 116 (additional published references).


Height: 21 cm (8 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, from Göktepe near Aphrodisias

Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World



The magistrate, or otherwise distinguished citizen of Aphrodisias, has curly hair forming a mop-like enframement to his long face and a “stippled” beard. The top of the head has flat strands of hair, roughly worked and radiating from the crown; the curls on the back of the head, above the neck, are not cut out with the drill.
The chin and area around the eyes are partly restored or slightly filled in; the piece has been through a fire, probably in recent times.

Aphrodisias was a major center of portrait sculpture through the fifth century A.D. The use of line to emphasize the modeling and texture of this man’s aging flesh is characteristic of the late sculptural school of Aphrodisias - as is the use of deep drillwork to create rich contrasts of light and shadow. The head probably belonged to a statue of a public official wearing a tunic and mantle like a statue of a “vicar” of Asia with a very similar portrait head also excavated at Aphrodisias.

Scientific Analysis:

University of South Florida Lab No. 8472: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.9 / delta18O -2.7,

Attribution - Göktepe 3-4, Turkey (near Aphrodisias). Justification - C and O isotopes, fine grain, from Aphrodisias


1904, excavated at the Baths of Hadrian, Aphrodisias, Caria, Turkey, by Paul Augustin Gaudin (b. 1858 – d. 1921) and subsequently shipped to Europe [see note 1]. 1970, Jerome M. Eisenberg (dealer), New York [see note 2]; 1971, gift of Jerome M. Eisenberg and Richard Titelman to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 13, 1971)

[1] Kenan T. Erim, “De Aphrodisiade,” American Journal of Archaeology 71, no. 3 (July, 1967), pp. 237-238, fig. 15. [2] Lent to the MFA May 8, 1970 and said to have been acquired in Paris.

Credit Line

Gift of Jerome M. Eisenberg and Richard Titelman