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.