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Original scientific paper

Late Antonine Female Portrait Discovered at the Gas Pipeline Route in Solin

Andreja Nađander ; Kaukal d.o.o.
Nenad Cambi

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Because of construction and laying of the Split-Dalmatia County gas distribution system, at its Klis-Solin route, the Ministry of Culture, Cultural Heritage Administration, Historic Monuments Conservation Department in Split (Ministartvo kulture, Uprava za zaštitu kulturne baštine, Konzervatorski odjel u Splitu) ordered archaeological supervision of earth works in the Stjepana Radića street in Solin. This site is situated inside the eastern city walls of the Roman Salona. At the beginning of the street is the north-eastern entrance into the Roman Salona (Porta Andetria). The total excavated area covered 1900 m2 (figs 1-3). The trenches were 0.6 to 2.5 deep. In the excavations documented are several dozens of stone structures, parts of pits, layers and numerous movable ceramic, glass, metal, bone and stone artefacts. The excavation preliminary results enable differentiation of archaeological structures and materials belonging to crafts and industrial, residential, and thermal complexes. Among the archaeological artefacts stands out a female portrait (PN 708) found in the backfill of a pit at the researched route, between the chainages 0+480 and 0+500, or the quadrants 48 and 50. It may be assumed that the pit was created in a later period, although the material found in it is older (backfills SJ 335,356). A more precise dating will result from a more detailed analysis of the ceramic and metal artefacts found at the location. The portrait belongs to a middle-aged woman, with a characteristic hair style (figs 4-8). It
is very well preserved, except for the nose that is broken almost by the very saddle. The eyes are disproportionally large and make the main accent of the sculpture. Since in Salona there were few busts, this is most probably the head of a statue about 1 m high. The hair style is very characteristic and, based on its shape, can be dated with certainty to the late Antonine Period. This type of hair appears with slight variations on portraits of three empresses or imperial family members of that time: Faustina Minor, Lucilla and Crispina. It is closest to the Salonitan 7th type of head of portraits of Faustina Minor. Some other physiognomic details, however, do not match. The nose, although broken at the hump, is obviously aquiline and quite large. The empresses' nose was perfectly straight, as best evident from her
profiles shown on her coins. The same is about her stone portraits, although most of them have the nose reconstructed. Furthermore, the Salonitan woman's eyes are much larger and more marked. This is obviously a woman older than Faustina who died aged between 40
and 50. Therefore, another solution is to be sought. If the woman is not Faustina Minor, she is a private person. The significant likeness between Faustina and the woman of Salona can be explained by the phenomenon of fashion that was dictated by persons from the imperial circle. They influenced the fashion that the upper social classes followed.
In the vicinity of the site there was no urban architecture that the head could have belonged to. Most logical would be that the woman statue made inventory of some of the burial enclosures lined up from the so called Porta Caesarea through the entire eastern part of the city, along
the road outside the city gate (the so called Porta Andetria). The head has been found some fifty meters south of facades of this necropolis. It is hard to say when the part of the necropolis within the city ceased being used, but it started dying away in the late Roman period. The portrait of the woman indicates burial enclosures were still used in the late Antonine Period.


Salona; rescue excavations; female portrait; late Antonine Period

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