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Welcome to History Buff, a blog for history lovers everywhere! History Buff brings news stories about archaeology from around the world together on one site. From finds in ancient Egypt to new discoveries in anthropology, History Buff wants to know.

Michelle Moran
Historical fiction author


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Colossal Head of Roman Empress Unearthed

by Marc Waelkens

Excavators prop up the newly found head of the empress Faustina the Elder (Courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project)

Sagalassos, Turkey, August 12—Tuesday morning, archaeologists of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven team (Belgium) directed by Marc Waelkens uncovered the colossal portrait head of the Roman empress Faustina, wife of the emperor Antoninus Pius, who ruled from A.D. 138 to 161. According to Waelkens, the excavation team was ecstatic at the discovery.

Professor Waelkens' excavations at Sagalassos, a classical metropolis, have been a regular feature on ARCHAEOLOGY's Interactive Digs, and he sent us this report about the new find direct from the field.—Mark Rose

The Discovery

[image] [image]
Excavators last year found fragments of a colossal statute of Hadrian as well as the toes of yet another statute.

[image] [image]
Excavating Faustina

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Transporting Faustina
(Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project)

The find was made almost exactly one year after we discovered the remains of a colossal (ca. 5 m; 16 foot) statue of the emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138) at a spot about 6 m (20 feet) away. The Hadrian statue—represented by a head and the lower part of the right leg and joining foot—is currently on display in the rotunda of the British Museum where it is the centerpiece of the exhibition Hadrian: Empire and Conflict.

Both the Hadrian statute and Faustina head come from the largest room of the Roman Baths at Sagalassos, which have under excavation for the past 12 years. This room—cross-shaped, with mosaic floors, and up to 1250 sq. meters—was most likely a cold room or frigidarium. Other colossal statues once occupied this room, as shown by the front part of two female feet of colossal dimensions we discovered last summer standing on the floor and surrounded by mosaics which still follow the contours of the female statue's long dress.

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