Shield Portraits

The shield portraits were discovered in 1981 in the excavation of the Atrium House. They formed part of the decoration of an apsidal court and were set within an elaborate revetment of grey and white marble. They are portraits of great figures of classical philosophy and literature (Pythagoras, Sokrates, Pindar), together with famous students of philosophy (Alkibiades and Alexander the Great). These are new versions, carved in the late Roman period, of portraits originally created in the classical period (fifth-fourth centuries BC). Only one, an unidentified portrait, shows a contemporary late antique philosopher, a pagan sage. The portraits are notable for the highly expressive style of the carving and for a new visionary quality seen in the eyes and faces. As a group, they are a vivid reflection of intellectual life at Aphrodisias and of enduring pagan culture and education in late antiquity.

Shield Portraits

Found at: Atrium House

A Collaboration:

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism New York University University of Oxford


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All content belongs to the Aphrodisias Excavations project and cannot be used without express written authorization. Enquiries and requests for images email to:

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Ioannou Centre for Classical & Byzantine Studies
66, St. Giles', Oxford. OX1 3LU


Sevgi Gönül Hall, 2008