Bust of Caesar featured on new French stamp

February 18th, 2014

The marble bust of Julius Caesar, found in 2007 in the French city of Arles, is honored on a new French stamp.

It is the oldest representation of the Roman dictator presumably created just before or after his death.

The bust shows the great general with baldness and features typical for his age. The bust was discovered in the Rhone in Arles, a French city founded in the 6th century BC that Caesar made a Roman colony in 46 BC to thank the Celtic-Ligurian town for the help in conquest of Marseille. The bust with the broken nose probably dates to between 49 and 46 BC.

Presented as part of the exhibition "Arles, excavations of the Rhone", this portrait obliterates the usual severe power which suits the representation that we have of Caesar, born in Rome in 100 BC and murdered in 44 BC by the conspirators opposing his dictatorship.

The archeologist Luc Long, site manager of the underwater excavations of Arles, felt something just when the head was taken out of river. "Since then, the intuition was confirmed", claimed Long in the demonstration he published in 2009 at the Arles exhibition on twenty years of excavations in the Rhone.

"Studies based on geological, historical, stylistic and anatomical arguments tend to confirm that the portrait discovered in the Rhone fits well with the highly individualized face of the dictator at the time of the foundation of the Roman colony in Arles", writes Luc Long, now chief curator of the heritage.

Premature baldness and hollow cheeks

In turn, the Louvre opened its own file to compare the "Caesar of Arles" with the white marble bust of Caesar found at the site of Tusculum, Italy, in the early 19th century and preserved in the ancient museum of Turin.