An Egyptian archaeological expedition has uncovered a large marble head of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius while working to reduce the subterranean water level at Aswan’s Kom Ombo temple.
The statue, the dimensions of which are 40 x 33 x 34 cm, dates back to 160-182 AD, according to Chief of the Aswan and Nubia Archaeological site Abdel Moniem Saied. Its features remain well-defined, particularly the curly hair, eyes, and beard.
Head of the ancient Egyptian Sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, Aymen Ashmawi, said that the head is “unique”, and that statues of the Roman ruler are rare, according to a statement by Ministry of Antiquities.
Marcus Aurelius, known as the last of the Five Good Emperors, ruled the Roman empire jointly with his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, until Verus’ death, and then with his son, Commodus, until Aurelius died. He was recognised as a philosopher-king during his reign as a practitioner of Stoicism, and his world-famous Meditations is still considered today as one of the greatest works of philosophy.
Aurelius’ death signified the end of the Pax Romana – around 200 years of relative stability, under which the Roman Empire grew to its largest in both territory and population – and was followed by increasing instability which is generally thought of to be the beginning of the fall of the Western Roman Empire.