Marble Sourcing in Antiquity Project

The Museum’s portrait of Hadrian is the first in an American collection to be identified as the marble known as Göktepe from Aphrodisias.

Marble Sourcing in Antiquity Project: Curator Benton Kidd, working with Donato Attanasio of the Istituto di Struttura della Materia del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome, and Robert Tykot of the Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, analyzed nine white marble samples from the Museum’s antiquities collection and provided their isotopic signatures. While many of the results were expected, one unusually informative signature came from the Museum’s portrait of young Hadrian. The marble was determined to be from a quarry discovered by Attanasio himself in 1998. The quarry supplied the ancient city of Aphrodisias in southwestern Turkey, where a famed school of sculpture thrived in the Hellenistic and Roman period. It was already known that Hadrian must have favored Aphrodisias and employed some of its sculptors in Rome, but now the Museum’s head is linked to these imperial commissions, which include a statuary group representing divinities in Copenhagen and a nearly identical portrait from the emperor’s private estate at Tivoli. These results confirm that not only did Hadrian bring in Aphrodisian sculptors to Italy for important projects, but he also allowed them to import their native stone. The Museum’s portrait of Hadrian is the first in an American collection to be identified as the marble known as Göktepe from Aphrodisias. The results of this study were published by Kidd in the annual symposia proceedings of the Association for the Study of Marbles and Others Stones (ASMOSIA).

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