intact marble head of a female deity was discovered during the redevelopment of the mausoleum of Augustus and the adjacent Piazzale Augusto Imperatore. The life-size head is carved from Parian marble, a bright white flawless stone quarried from the Greek island of Paros. Parian marble was highly prized for its fine grain and translucency, reminiscent of leather; the greatest Greek sculptors of the classical era used Parian marble for their masterpieces. Thus this head is in illustrious company with the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the statue of Augustus from Prima Porta.
Her wavy hair is tied at the back of her head with a taenia, a flat hair band (and not coincidentally the scientific name for the tapeworm family) that knots at the top of her head. This hairstyle can often be seen on statues of Aphrodite. The carving style dates it to the Augustan era (1st century AD).
However, it has not been found in the context of the 1st century. It was discovered in the area of the Mausoleum, where brigades are currently building two cordons leading to the monument. It was included in the foundations of the late antiquity wall (c. 4th to 6th centuries AD). Even parts of elegant statues like this one have been used as spolia (old material repurposed for new construction), and in this case, it was the practice that kept the head in such good condition, even when it was turned face down. Her features, including her fragile nose, are completely intact, preserved for two millennia in the earthen rampart over which the wall was built.
The head was taken to the laboratory for cleaning and conservation. When the work on the square is completed (scheduled for spring 2024), the head will be displayed inside the Mausoleum of Augustus itself, along with a Claudian monument found there in 2021.