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THE EXHIBIT

Ierapetra. 50-25 BC

This bronze statue of a standing adolescent is a chance find from Ierapetra. It is slightly smaller than life size and is set on a low base. The youth is standing frontally, left leg straight and right leg bent and turned to the side. He is wrapped in a mantle that covers most of his body including the arms and hands, the ends falling to the ankles, leaving only part of the upper chest bare. The left hand is holding the mantle in place, gripping a swathe of wide, draped folds, while the right arm is bent, hand raised to chest height. The youth is wearing elaborate sandals on his feet. Although the inlaid eyes are lost, the downwards tilt of the head to the right, and the serious or even sorrowful expression, together with the subject’s youth and mode of dress, indicate that the statue adorned a funerary monument rather than being a votive offering to a sanctuary. This interpretation stands even if the sculpture comes from the cargo of a shipwreck, as has recently been proposed due to where it was found. The extreme rarity of hollow bronze portrait statues of this period in Crete, the quality of the statue and the high cost of production and transport, probably from Attica, are all evidence of the high social status of the person portrayed. Taken together with his Roman features, they may indicate that he was a member of a wealthy family of Roman colonists living in the flourishing city of Ierapetra.
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