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Egypt and Early Greek Culture » Male Head with Egyptian Hairstyle

Male Head with Egyptian Hairstyle
Male Head with Egyptian Hairstyle, KM 29108 Limestone Mid-6th century BC Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Golgoi, Cyprus p.H. 0.31 m, W. 0.135 m, D. 0.273 m Kelsey Museum purchase 1928, formerly Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cesnola Collection


Head of bearded male wearing Egyptian-style wig. Broken across chin and down to back of head, with upper area of right shoulder partially preserved; missing tip of nose. Plain, undifferentiated wig set low on forehead, falling uniformly to level of chin and terminating in thick rounded end. Sloping forehead; wide-set, almond-shaped eyes with deep cavities at tear ducts; long, thin nose with flaring nostrils; narrow pursed lips forming a faint smile. Smooth beard extends from edge of wig in front of ear, below cheekbones and lower lip; upper lip smooth.


According to Mylonas (152–154), the Egyptian wig hairstyle first appears in Cypriot sculpture in the first half of the 6th century BC, and most examples, including the Kelsey Museum head, lack detailed articulation of the shape of the hair, preferring instead to depict it as an undifferentiated uniform mass. Although the Kelsey head has been separated from its body, comparable statues all possess a specific body type, with a belted Egyptian-style apron and pectoral collar. The upper body is either nude or wearing a short-sleeved tunic, with one arm suspended at the side while the other is held with clenched fist across the chest.

The Kelsey head has been associated with a workshop or artist who produced several other heads found at the Sanctuary at Golgoi, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Mylonas, 331, n. 1348. See also A. Hermary and J. Mertens, The Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Art. Stone Sculpture [New York 2014] nos. 52, 63, with bibliography). It was likely dedicated as a votive offering at the Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Golgoi, where it was excavated by Luigi Palma di Cesnola in the later 19th century.

Previously Published

F. C. Albertson, Catalogue of the Cypriote Sculptures and Terracottas in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, the University of Michigan (Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 20:4 1991) no. 1, figs. 1a–b; D. G. Mylonas, “Archaische Kalksteinplastik Zyperns: Unterschungen zur Ikonographie, Typologie und formgeschichtlichen Entwicklung der kyprischen Rundplastik der archaischen Zeit” (dissertation, Universität Mannheim 1998) 152–154, 483.

Male Head with Egyptian Hairstyle Male Head with Egyptian Hairstyle