Head thumbnail 1
Head thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, as part of a renewable cultural partnership

Head

Head
3rd century AD (made)
Artist/Maker

Life-sized head of a child, broken off at the neck. The head, with curling hair, is turned to the left, its eyes looking over its shoulder. The head was once part of a figure of Eros on a Roman sarcophagus from the ancient site of Sidamaria in Lycaonia (now in Karaman province, Turkey).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved marble
Brief Description
Carved marble head of a child, 3rd century AD
Physical Description
Life-sized head of a child, broken off at the neck. The head, with curling hair, is turned to the left, its eyes looking over its shoulder. The head was once part of a figure of Eros on a Roman sarcophagus from the ancient site of Sidamaria in Lycaonia (now in Karaman province, Turkey).
Dimensions
  • Height: 22.5cm
  • Width: 19cm
Object history
Given in 1933 by Miss Marion Olivia Wilson in memory of her father, Major General Sir Charles Wilson, RE, KCB, KCMG. In 1879-1882, Charles Wilson was British military consul general in Anatolia. Before he left in 1882, he discovered an important Roman sarcophagus at or near the site of the ancient settlement of Sidamaria in Lycaonia (now in Karaman province, Turkey). His intention was to return at some point to ship the sarcophagus to Britain. In the meantime, he took away the Head of Eros, which had become detached, placing it on loan at the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum) in 1883, with the idea of re-uniting it with the sarcophagus when it arrived. Wilson wrote at the time: '[I] should wish the head eventually to go to whoever secures the sarcophagus'. In 1900, however, the sarcophagus was moved to the Archaeology Museum in Istanbul under the supervision of its director, Osman Hamdi Bey, where it remains on display today.



In 1933, 50 years after Charles Wilson placed the Head on loan to the museum, a visitor noticed that it corresponded in style to the Sidamaria Sarcophagus (also known as the Sidamara Sarcophagus). This prompted staff at the V&A to contact the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and to create a plaster cast of the Head of Eros which was sent to Istanbul to determine whether it matched the figure on the sarcophagus. A match was confirmed, and the cast was attached to the sarcophagus where it remained for the next 88 years.



In 2022, the V&A entered into a renewable cultural partnership with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, which has led to the reuniting of the Head of Eros with the Sidamara Sarcophagus. Conservation teams across both museums worked on a joint plan to conserve the head and determine how it might be safely reunited with the figure carved onto the sarcophagus. An initial conservation treatment and cleaning took place at the V&A in London where the marble head was cleaned and an old metal dowel was removed. In June 2022 a team from the V&A flew to Istanbul with the Head of Eros and with colleagues from the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, they worked to remove the existing dowel from the head, replacing it with a stainless steel, adjustable dowel before the marble head was reattached to the sarcophagus.



The Sidamara sarcophagus, now complete after over a century, is currently on display at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The sarcophagus is of a distinctive type and has given its name to a class of Roman sarcophagus.

Summary
Life-sized head of a child, broken off at the neck. The head, with curling hair, is turned to the left, its eyes looking over its shoulder. The head was once part of a figure of Eros on a Roman sarcophagus from the ancient site of Sidamaria in Lycaonia (now in Karaman province, Turkey).
Bibliographic Reference
On the Sidamara sarcophagus, see M. Schede, Meisterwerke der Türkischen Museen zu Konstantinopel, I, Berlin and Leipzig 1928, pls XXXVIII-XLI
Collection
Accession Number
A.2-1933

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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