Occasional Blog

This is where I say things that I need to say that I haven’t said elsewhere.

Saved By Decapitation at the British Museum


This is the bronze head of the Roman emperor Augustus with eyes of glass and stone.

He ruled until 14 AD. This was made around the same time, probably in Alexandria, but this was found buried in the Sudan. It was part of a larger statue once. When Meroitic tribesmen raided that part of Roman Africa, the statue of their oppressor was decapitated and the head was buried under a pathway as a symbolic act—the victors tread over him daily.

That act of destruction is exactly what enabled the head to be preserved until now. Now it’s a star attraction in Room 70 of London’s British Museum.