Head of Emperor Severus Alexander
This Roman-style sculpted head is a portrait of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Alexander Severus. He has a short beard and short hair that is carved in vertical lines. He has inset eyes and a fleshy mouth. The neck on this statue is most likely not the original one. The statue is polished except for the hair. Coins and statues that realistically portrayed the emperor’s face allowed him to be known throughout the empire.
The future emperor Severus Alexander was born on 1 October 208 in Arca Caesarea, Phoenicia. Of his birth name, only two cognomina are known, from literary sources: Bassianus (Greek: Βασσιανός) according to the historian Cassius Dio, and Alexianus (Greek: Αλεξιανός) according to Herodian. “Bassianus” was also borne by several family members, while “Alexianus” was probably later converted to Alexander.
The historian Cassius Dio thought Alexianus was the son of Marcus Julius Gessius Marcianus, but Icks disputes this, saying the latter could not have married the emperor’s mother before 212 and that Alexianus must have been fathered by his mother’s first husband, who is of unknown name but of certain existence. The priest Marcus Julius Gessius Bassianus may have been his younger brother.
Roman Period, ca. 30 BC-395 CE. From Luxor. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 27480