Ancient Nosejobs

These days, I am occupied with proofreading my next book, De rand van het Rijk. De Romeinen en de Lage Landen (“The Edge of Empire. The Romans and the Low Countries”). There are many photos, and I am surprised to see that the same object can look completely different. Here is a set of photos of Julius Caesar and a set of Constantius Chlorus. Spot the difference.

Head of Caesar, said to be found at Nijmegen. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden (Netherlands). Photo Jona Lendering.
Bust of Constantius Chlorus. Altes Museum, Berlin (Germany). Photo Jona Lendering.

Top left, a bust of Caesar from Nijmegen, now in the Leiden Rijksmuseum van oudheden. When I took the photo, the nose was just damaged. Top right, the photo we use in the book – a damaged nose with a big hole.

Bottom left, a Constantius from one of the Berlin museums (I don’t know in which museum it is now; it used to be the Altes Museum). Again, a damaged nose; the hole, however, is missing on the photo that my publisher bought for my book.

I wonder what the explanation may be.

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3 Responses to Ancient Nosejobs

  1. justinfromnewyork says:

    I can’t remember the source for this, but I remember reading somewhere that people used to rub the noses for good luck.

    Another good example of this is the bust of Sulla at the Munich Glyptothek:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Sulla_Glyptothek_Munich_309.jpg

  2. andypeg123 says:

    Just to confirm: the Constantius is still in the Altes Museum. Could it be that the hole was where a later (post-Classical) restoration of the nose had been pegged in? The nose now looks suspiciously smooth and unatural for a fracture (there are chisel marks clearly visible for one thing), but I can’t imagine that the Altes Museum would have sanctioned taking tools to an ancient work of art just to make the nose look more attractive. Certainly the Caesar shouldn’t have a hole in it’s nose after you took your picture

  3. Bill Thayer says:

    A careful look at the Caesar photos shows that the hole is in both, ‘cept in the first, it’s filled in. My guess is that modern restoration principles have been recently followed, and that a cosmetic repair made after the head was found has been removed again. Our own time has a definite tendency to do this; see for example the “restoration” of Leonardo’s Last Supper.

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