Bouleuterion Sculpture:

Portrait statue of Tatiana
Portrait statue of Domiteinos

Inside the Bouleuterion were found eight overlifesize marble statues, which from their findspots most probably decorated the scaenae frons (stage front). Two more statues originally flanked the two entrances to the building from the North Agora. In all, the surviving statues must represent a considerable part of the building's original sculptural decoration.

In the lower level of the scaenae frons stood a personification of Demos, the 'citizenry' of Aphrodisias, dedicated by the Boule or City Council, balanced in the upper level by a seated figure of the god Apollo, probably holding a lyre. Buildings of this type were not used solely for sessions of the Council; they were also used for musical performances. The two functions of the building are perfectly summed up in these two figures.

The remaining figures are all portraits of important Aphrodisians. In the lower level, these figures are represented as holders of priestly offices, as are the two figures which framed the main entrances of the building: L. Antonius Domiteinos and his neice, Claudia Antonia Tatiana, identified by their inscribed bases. In the upper level, the figures were portrayed seated, in a manner normally used for literary men, poets, and philosophers. One might have thought these to be luminaries of the Classical past, but part of the head of one is preserved, and it seems to be a contemporary portrait. These figures are thus evidence for the existence of an interesting alternative manner of self-presentation among the local aristocracy.

All the key indicators of date for the portrait heads make a broadly Antonine or Severan date (mid- to late second or early third century) most likely for all of these works, though slight differences in scale and in workmanship would speak against a unified program with all the figures erected at one time. All of these statues could nevertheless have been in place by the early 3rd century A.D. The last remaining figure from the building is probably contemporary with its re-erection in late antiquity, and represents a certain Pytheas, an individual also known from literary sources. He will have occupied the remaining place in the upper level, as may be inferred from his findspot, his slightly smaller scale, and from the badly broken condition of both statue and base. The sculpture from the Bouleuterion constitutes a body of material of quite exceptional interest, because of the quality and scale of the pieces, and because of their known context in one of the most important civic buildings on the site.

The sculpture from the Bouleuterion is being studied by Christopher H. Hallett, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, University of California at Berkeley.

Architecture of Bouleuterion      Panorama of Bouleuterion