Tarih Pusulası


The Roman city of Ancyra was capital of the province of
Galatia, created by the emperor Augustus in 25 BC. The
temple of Rome and Augustus, beside the Hacı Bayram
Mosque, is a remarkable monument from the earliest
period of Roman imperial rule in Anatolia. However, for
the next century relatively few securely dated monuments
and documents survive from the city, although Kadıoğlu,
Görkay and Mitchell (2011, pp. 243-252), in their recent
archaeological study of Roman Ancyra, have been able
to trace the development of the city plan and important
public buildings, including the theatre, with more precision
than was previously possible. Historical information
about Roman Ankara becomes much more plentiful in the
second century AD, owing to the large number of important
inscriptions that have been recorded in the city.1 We
know that citizens of Ancyra provided military support
for the emperor Trajan’s campaigns against the Parthians
in AD 114, and his successor, Hadrian, passed through the
city soon after he became emperor in AD 117, and Ancyra,
like many cities of the eastern Roman empire, enjoyed a
remarkable cultural renaissance under Hadrian.2
One of the signs of this renaissance was the creation of an
international festival and competition for performing artists
in AD 128 called the mystikos agon (‘the contest of the
mysteries’), whose founder and first president was a wealthy
Ancyran citizen called Ulpius Aelius Pompeianus. The association
of performing artists, which was known by its full
ancient title as ‘the world-wide association of artists connected
with Dionysus and the emperor Traianus Hadrianus
Caesar Augustus, victors in sacred games and crown-wearers,
and their fellow competitors’, passed two decrees honouring
its benefactors which have have survived among the
inscriptions of Ancyra. The first of these was in honour of
Ulpius Aelius Pompeianus. The second is fragmentary and
the person honoured cannot be identified for certain. The
text has normally been restored as a second decree for Pompeianus,
but may in fact refer to another benefactor of the
artists’ association, who remains anonymous for us, as his
name is no longer readable on the inscription.3
A remarkable and unusual feature of the second decree is
the nature of the honour that was awarded to the artistic
benefactor. He was to be commemorated with two gilded
images in the form of a shield. Each of these, to use the Latin
technical term, would have been an imago clipeata, a shieldmounted
image (Winkes, 1969). Visitors to the Museum
of Anatolian Civilizations at Ankara will readily recognize
the outstanding item of Roman art discovered in Ankara,
a bronze tondo, decorated with a life-size bust which has
often been identified as a portrait of the emperor Trajan
(Figure 1).4 Art works in bronze, which were more readily
damaged than stone busts or statues, and were also easily
melted down, are only rarely preserved from antiquity. The
Ankara tondo is one of the finest pieces of this type to have
survived. In this paper I shall argue that this superb piece
of Roman sculpture does not represent the emperor Trajan,
but is one of the portraits mentioned in the second decree of
the Artists’ association. It should accordingly be identified as
a portrait either of Ulpius Aelius Pompeianus, the founder
of Ankara’s mystikos agon in AD 128, or of an anonymous
benefactor of about the same period, who was also closely
involved in Ankara’s Hadrianic cultural renaissance.

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