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Emperors and Deities in Rural Britain: A Copper-Alloy Head of Marcus Aurelius from Steane, near Brackley (Northants.)

  • Susan Walker (a1)

Abstract

A half-life-sized copper-alloy head of a bearded man was published in the Portable Antiquities Scheme's report of finds from Roman Britain in 2009. 1 The head was purchased by the Ashmolean Museum in 2011. In this paper evidence for the identification of the subject as a portrait of the emperor Marcus Aurelius is reviewed by comparison with metropolitan and other certainly identified heads of deities and portraits of the emperor. The technique and likely function of the head are compared with those of similarly worked Roman copper-alloy heads of emperors and deities found in South-East Britain. Finally, a brief account is given of geophysical survey and trial excavation conducted in 2012–13 in the field where the head was found. This offers a unique opportunity to explore the head's archaeological context.

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With a contribution by JANE SMALLRIDGE

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