Head of Athena (Full front)


The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

A marble head is all that survives of this acrolithic statue—a type of sculpture that was assembled from several different materials. The sculptor of this figure carved the parts of the body that represented exposed flesh (head, arms, and feet) from marble, and then attached these to a body made out of another material, probably wood. Acrolithic sculpture was produced most frequently in the Greek colonies in South Italy, where fine white marble had to be imported and was therefore very expensive. This figure’s head is intact with hollow eye sockets and cuttings for the attachment of auxiliary features. The ears are roughly shaped with the lobes drilled for separately made earrings.

Cuttings on this head help reconstruct the statue's original appearance. A large hole at the front center on the top surface of the head is for the attachment of a helmet. Six smaller holes drilled around the hairline may have supported locks of hair. The addition of a bronze helmet, a typical attribute of the goddess Athena, would have hidden the fact that the top of the head was cut off. The rectangular cutting over each temple once supported the raised cheekpieces of the helmet.


  • Title: Head of Athena (Full front)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 440–420 B.C.
  • Location Created: South Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 21 × 14.1 × 15.8 cm (8 1/4 × 5 9/16 × 6 1/4 in.)
  • Type: Mythological figure
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Marble
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 82.AA.91
  • Culture: Greek
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Sculpture (Visual Works)

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