[Music sets an ancient tone]
Female Narrator: A stern-looking man strides forward, looking every bit the Egyptian pharaoh. Antiquities curator Sara Cole.
Sara Cole: He has his arms clenched tightly at his sides. He's wearing a tripartite Egyptian kilt, a nemes headdress, and he has a cobra uraeus –
Female Narrator: – that’s the emblem on the headdress in the middle of his forehead –
Sara Cole: – which signals his royal status. While this sculpture looks entirely Egyptian, it is actually a Roman work. It was created we believe during the reign of the emperor Domitian and is depicting that emperor as an Egyptian pharaoh.
Female Narrator: Like other foreign rulers in Egypt, Domitian embraced Egyptian religion and co-opted, so to speak, a particular goddess cult – that of Isis – to enhance his own stature through association. Domitian spread Isis worship throughout the Roman Empire. In fact, this statue probably originally decorated a temple to Isis in Benevento in what’s now Italy, built during Domitian’s reign There were many such temples —
Sara Cole: — stretching even as far West as modern-day Great Britain. There were several temples to Isis in Italy and in the Bay of Naples, so we also have a temple to Isis from Pompeii.
Female Narrator: One last thing to notice: the Roman sculptor who made this statue, trying to mimic an Egyptian style in an Egyptian material, wasn’t entirely successful.
Sara Cole: This is a very hard dark stone. Romans were more familiar with working with stones like marble. The facial features of Domitian are a bit asymmetrical. They're not entirely regular and the shoulders are not exactly even and if we look at the back pillar on the back of the statue, it's not entirely straight.