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Marble head of Emperor Caracalla

Penn Museum - Joy of Museums - Caracalla

Marble head of Emperor Caracalla

This marble head depicting Emperor Caracalla is an imperial portrait. Portraits of Roman Emperors ranging from small palm-sized statues to large colossal sculptures were distributed throughout the empire. This statue of Caracalla is not large enough to serve as a public propaganda vehicle. It was probably owned by a private wealthy supporter who wanted to demonstrate loyalty.

Caracalla (188 – 217 AD) was Roman emperor from AD 198 to 217. Caracalla reigned jointly with his father from 198 until his father’s death in 211. Caracalla then ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta, until he had Geta murdered.

Caracalla’s name is mostly recognised today because of the construction of the “Baths of Caracalla”, which became the second-largest baths in Rome. Today the Baths are a cultural, artistic, historical and architectural UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Caracalla is presented in ancient texts as a tyrant and cruel leader, an image that has survived into modernity where he is portrayed as a psychopathic and evil ruler. His rule is remembered as being one of the most tyrannical of all Roman emperors. He was assassinated by a disaffected soldier in 217.

Marble head of Emperor Caracalla

  • Title:                 Marble head of Emperor Caracalla
  • Culture:           Roman
  • Date:                 212 – 217 AD
  • Provenience:  Turkey (Country), Rumeli Hisar, near Istanbul, Turkey
  • Period:             Roman Period
  • Materials:        Marble
  • Dimensions:   H: 27cm; W: 19.5cm; D: 12.5cm
  • Museum:        Penn Museum

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“Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature.”
– Marcus Aurelius

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Photo Credit: 1) GM