Colossal marble head of Asklepios


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This head comes from a colossal statue of the god Asklepios, a god of medicine and healing. It was constructed from three separately worked pieces, of which two survive. The calm expression of the face is set off by a full beard and crown of hair. The lead pegs that would have held a gold wreath are still in place, but the wreath is now lost. The cult of Asklepios was popular throughout Greece and Asia Minor during the Classical period (480-300 BC) and the Hellenistic period (323-30 BC). Important centres were set up in Athens and at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese. Hippocrates was the founding father of modern scientific medicine and, following his death in 357 BC, a healing sanctuary was established on his native island of Cos. There, Asklepios was represented in what became the canonical manner of the later Hellenistic and Roman periods: bearded, semi-nude and supported on one side by a staff around which a serpent is coiled. This head probably comes from such a statue.

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  • Title: Colossal marble head of Asklepios
  • Date Created: -325/-300
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 0.60m (about)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: classical deity
  • Registration number: 1867,0508.115
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Shrine of Asklepios
  • Period/culture: Hellenistic
  • Material: marble
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Blacas d'Aulps. Previous owner/ex-collection Blacas, Louis Charles Pierre Casimir