Head Attributed to Arsinoe II

Period: Ptolemaic Period

Reign: reign of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II

Date: 278–270 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Memphite Region, Abu Rawash, IFAO excavations 1922-1923

Medium: Limestone (Indurated)

Dimensions: H. 12 cm (4 3/4 in); W. 9 cm (3 9/16 in); D. 9 cm (3 9/16 in)

Credit Line: Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1938

Accession Number: 38.10


This small head of a queen is thought to have been created in the early part of the reign of the Macedonian Greek Ptolemies and is believed to depict Arsinoe II (278–270 B.C.), sister/wife of Ptolemy II, one of a line of religiously and politically important Ptolemaic queens.

Arsinoe II is shown in a style that is closely related to that of Dynasty 30, the last of the traditional Egyptian pharaonic dynasties. Indeed, the early Ptolemies made great efforts to show themselves as the inheritors of the pharaohs who had preceded them. At the same time, other motivations led to the creation of other types of royal images. Strongly Hellenistic images (2002.66), relate these rulers to the other Hellenistic kingdoms ruled by Alexander's successors around the Mediterranean. Other images depict the Ptolemaic rulers with mixed Egyptian and Hellenistic or particularly Ptolemaic elements (20.2.21).