Sculptural Studies 2006
Semra Mägele (University of Cologne, Germany, and K.U.Leuven, Belgium) participated in our campaign for three weeks to complete final checking of details for her imminent doctoral dissertation on the sculpture from Sagalassos. Like last year, she was also involved in completing the restoration of two statues from the late Hadrianic Nymphaeum and already displayed in the Burdur Museum (see Statue conservations: July 17-August 11, 2005 and August 6-17, 2006). At the same time, she studied a foot fragment belonging to a colossal statue of Augustan date, in order to check whether it belonged to the cylindrical statue base for M. Lollius, the first Roman governor (25-23 B.C.) of Galatia and Sagalassos, mentioned above (see Epigraphical Studies: 2006).
The two fragments of a left foot belong to a colossal cuirassed statue, as shown by the footwear, boots or high shoes. The first fragment (H.: 12.5 cm; W.: 19 cm; L.: 28 cm) belongs to the central part of the foot between the broken off toes and the onset of the heel, but misses most of the plinth (max. H.: 4.5 cm). The second fragment is composed of the plinth (H.: 7 cm) and the adjoining heel (W.: 14 cm; L.: 9.5 cm). The floral decoration of the boots still contains red-violet pigments. The material is a white crystalline marble with a yellowish patina. Both fragments are covered with mortar as they were recycled as rubble in the west wall of the early fifth-century A.D. basilica in the Bouleuterion's courtyard. Most of the wall is made of rock-cut limestone, but some larger holes in it had to be filled with mortared rubble. We recovered the fragments during a repointing of these rubble sections.
The boots are composed of irregularly tied leather straps kept together by a seam with buckles and decorated with acanthus tendrils and flowers of various heights. This kind of shoe ware can be identified as "lion boots," known in antiquity as mulleus. Usually, it shows a kind of cat-like skin above, with the legs of the animal hanging down. In reality, this ornamentation was embroidered on the shoe, whereby the buckles represent rivets to which the leather straps were fixed on the inside. This kind of boots is known since Archaic times, where only the lion skin and legs are still missing. Then, the representation of gods and mythological kings wearing this type of skin boots passed on to the iconography of the Hellenistic rulers, but such boots also occur in the private realm of contemporaneous sepulchral art. The real lion-skin boot only made its first appearance in the reign of Augustus. Besides gods and personifications, it was mainly reserved to representations of emperors or people in close contact with him. Military or battle scene sarcophagi, however, prove that this kind of boots was not a monopoly of the emperor alone, but that it also entered private iconography. Both in sculptures in the round as on reliefs of historical personalities, the mulleus never occurs without these persons wearing a cuirass. So it clearly was part of military attire. Whereas lion-skin boots are really exclusive in their appearance on Augustan or early Imperial monuments, their numbers, clearly increase in the course of time to reach their maximal appearance under Hadrian. The popularity of using lion-skin boots in many expressions of art on the one hand eventually lead to a reduction of its rich expression, but on the other hand it also enhanced its becoming a symbol of power providing gods wearing this attribute with a supernatural dimension. The investment of mullei with these values is firstly based on the use of lion skin. Secondly, literary evidence clearly shows that the mullei, which, in contrast to the calcei, did not represent a daily object, were considered as a royal shoe ware.
Based upon these considerations, the fragments of lion-skin boots at Sagalassos provide several facts about the statue to which it once belonged. According to S. Mägele it must have represented a historical figure (wearing a cuirass with a reconstructed height of ca. 3.50 m. Preserved pigments on the ankle could indicate that it once was covered with gold, which even increases the esteem for the represented personality and suggests a honorific statue. The best stylistic parallels for the execution and the details of the mullei point to S. Mägele to the first half of the first century A.D. and rather to the earlier phases of it. Dimensions, date and possibly also the gilding of the statue at first sight rather suggest an imperial representation of either Augustus or Tiberius. Yet, despite the greater possibility of an imperial identification in this early period, people closely related to the imperial family cannot be totally excluded. Contrary to the late Republic and the early Empire in the West, in the Greek East, the cuirassed statue was already common to the honorific repertoire of the Hellenistic period and adopted there by Roman generals and officials, who introduced it into the Roman repertoire. This also means that during the early Empire in the East even the mullei may not have been yet an Imperial monopoly.
This brings us back to the cylindrical statue base mentioned above, of which the form is different from the usual square, rectangular or polygonal local types. The fact that the base does not identify Lollius as "governor" but as "patronus" could indicate that his honorific statue was set up later, according to S. Mägele and W. Eck possibly at the occasion of his trip in the East in 1 B.C., when he accompanied Augustus' grandson and appointed heir, Gaius Julius, and was honored by many cities. As the 1.50 m high cylindrical base does not have any dowel holes on its upper surface, an intermediary piece must be missing, so that the height of the total monument must have approached that of ca. 5 m. The original location of the statue must have been the middle or the northern part of the Upper Agora, one of the most important locations for statuary throughout the city. Whereas identification with Augustus or Tiberius for the foot fragment still remains the most likely option, the contemporaneity and dimensions of the Lollius basis do not exclude that he was the honored personality either. A publication by W. Eck and S. Mägele with all arguments and parallels may be expected soon.