Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Formal, clothed images of her from the Archaic and Early Classical periods were gradually replaced with more sensual versions, sometimes nude or partly so, which explore female sexuality more explicitly.
Here, Aphrodite's softly-rendered features are framed by loosely-waving hair bound up in a chignon. Her diadem (stephane) may have been faced in sheet gold and attached by use of the holes at either side.
This sculpture comes from a statue of Aphrodite, goddess of love in all its forms. To the Greeks, this was sometimes seen in terms of human passion (Aphrodite Pandemos) and something more profound, even divine (Aphrodite Ourania).
Her centrally parted hair, done up behind in a chignon and set with a diadem, together with the tilt of the head, suggest that this is a copy of the so-called Aphrodite of Capua. The original was one of the most influential fourth century types; its descendents include the famous Venus de Milo in the Louvre. In Roman times, the type would later be modified to become a Victoria.
The Aphrodite of Capua showed the goddess partly nude. Early representations of Aphrodite show her elaborately dressed, a tradition that continues throughout antiquity. The diadem has drilled holes at the sides, probably to attach a gold foil facing.