Archaeology News, Hadrian, Hadrian portrait, Roman Portraiture, Spain

Exquisite marble bust of Hadrian found in Spain

Today I was thrilled to discover that a beautiful bust of Hadrian had been excavated at the archaeological site of Los Torrejones in the Region of Murcia in Spain. The bust, characterized by its excellent condition, was discovered during archaeological digs at the site which ran from October to December 2014. It was only unveiled to the public today.

The counselor Sanchez presents the bust found in Yecla © Vicente Vicéns
The counselor Sanchez presents the bust found in Yecla
© Vicente Vicéns

The 52 cm high sculpture, carved out of white marble, is believed to date to 135 AD. It appears to belong to the “Rollockenfrisur” type, one of the six sculptural types attributed to the extant corpus of Hadrian portraits by M. Wegner, a German specialist on Roman portraiture (a seventh type was added later on). Approximately 160 portraits of Hadrian have survived, and the “Rollockenfrisur” type was a type popular in the provinces. This type is characterized by nine curls which are framing evenly the face and are rolled onto themselves in a movement to the left. The best known examples of the “Rollockenfrisur” type include the bronze statue in Israel Museum (left), the marble busts in Seville (middle) and in the British Museum (right).

The new bust was found alongside another smaller figure depicting a woman dating to the same period. Both were laying at the entrance of a large building whose exact purpose has not yet been established, but is known to have had something to do with water (a nymphaeum?). It is possible that the structure was linked to the worship of the Emperor. The Los Torrejones site consists of a rural Roman villa complex which included a monumental residential area in which the owner lived (Pars Dominica) as well an area reserved for servants and workers of the farm (Pars Rustica). It is one of five such sites discovered in the municipality of Yecla which are known to have been occupied between the 1st and 4th centuries AD.

Excavation work at the site of Los Torrejones is an ongoing project and further digs will probably be scheduled for 2015.

The bust will be on display at the Archaeological Museum of Yecla from this coming weekend.

Needless to say that I am already planning a trip to Spain to see and photograph this wonderful find!

Video of the press conference (in Spanish)


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