Marble head of Zeus Ammon

Period: Imperial

Date: ca. A.D. 120–160

Culture: Roman

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: H. from base: 19 in. (48.2 cm.)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Philodoroi Gifts, Acquisitions Fund, Mary and Michael Jaharis Gift, 2011 Benefit Fund, funds from various donors, Mr. and Mrs. John A. Moran, John J. Medveckis, Nicholas S. Zoullas, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick W. Beinecke, Leon Levy Foundation, Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, Judy and Michael Steinhardt, Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation and Aso O. Tavitian Gifts, 2012

Accession Number: 2012.22


Zeus Ammon’s sanctuary at the Oasis of Siwa in the Libyan desert was already famous when Alexander the Great made his pilgrimage there in 331 B.C. Alexander’s visit to Siwa was a pivotal moment in the young king’s extraordinary life. The details are shrouded in mystery, but legend has it that the Oracle proclaimed him son of Zeus Ammon and answered Alexander’s questions favorably, “to his heart’s desire.”
This powerful portrait of the god combines a classical Greek image of the bearded Zeus with the ram’s horns of the Egyptian Ammon, an attribute with which Alexander himself was sometimes represented. It may well reflect a sculpture created in Egypt in the years after Alexander’s historic visit to Siwa.