The eyes and brows of this head were originally inlaid in a darker stone and the "dimple" on the chin with bronze, indicating perhaps a tattoo that was probably meant as a mark of nobility or power. Other pieces have survived with the metal inlay intact.
The south Arabian taste for abstract forms is reflected in the treatment of the smooth beard and geometric hairstyle, combined here with a more naturalistic rendering of the face derived from Greco-Roman sculpture.
Artist South Arabian, Arabian
  • Male Head from a Funerary Plaque
Date between 100 BCE and 100 CE
Medium Alabaster
Dimensions Overall: 6 7/8 × 4 7/16 × 4 inches (17.5 × 11.3 × 10.2 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Mrs. Robert T. Keller
Accession Number 1992.357
Department Ancient Near Eastern Art
On View Ancient Middle East Gallery, Level 1 (see map)
Cemetary of Timna, Kingdom of Qataban.
Robert T. Keller (Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA);
1993-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Henshaw, Julia P., ed. A Visitors Guide: The DIA. Detroit, 1995, p. 100 (ill.).