Colossal marble head of Asklepios
c. 325-300 BC
Found on Mílos, Southern Aegean, Greece
The healing god
This head comes from a colossal statue of the god Asklepios, a god of medicine and healing. It was constructed from three separately worked pieces, of which two survive. The calm expression of the face is set off by a full beard and crown of hair. The lead pegs that would have held a gold wreath are still in place, but the wreath is now lost.
The cult of Asklepios was popular throughout Greece and Asia Minor during the Classical period (480-300 BC) and the Hellenistic period (323-30 BC). Important centres were set up in Athens and at Epidaurus in the Peloponnese. Hippocrates was the founding father of modern scientific medicine and, following his death in 357 BC, a healing sanctuary was established on his native island of Cos. There, Asklepios was represented in what became the canonical manner of the later Hellenistic and Roman periods: bearded, semi-nude and supported on one side by a staff around which a serpent is coiled. This head probably comes from such a statue.
Source: British Museum