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Journal Article

A New Portrait of Livia from Thysdrus (El Jem, Tunisia)

Lea M. Stirling
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 116, No. 4 (October 2012), pp. 625-647
DOI: 10.3764/aja.116.4.0625
Stable URL:
Page Count: 23

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Topics: Statues, Portraits, Ceres, Hairstyles, Head, Draperies, Coinage, Hair, Rooms, Buildings
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A New Portrait of Livia from Thysdrus (El Jem, Tunisia)
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In the 1970s, a fragmentary sculpted portrait of the empress Livia wearing a wreath of wheat was found in a monumental building (dubbed the Imperial Cult Building) on the forum of ancient Thysdrus (El Jem, Tunisia). Published here for the first time, the head dates to ca. 10–20 C.E. The new Livia is part of a cluster of Augustan and Julio-Claudian statuary—an Augustus, a possible Octavia, and three hitherto-unpublished headless statues—that sheds new light on the prosperity and public ambitions of Thysdrus in the Early Empire. The unadulterated crown of wheat accentuates ties to Ceres with unusual emphasis but fits in with contemporary African coinage and dedications. Additional figures can be found under this article’s abstract on AJA Online.

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