The so-called Medinaceli (Actium) reliefs relate to the life of Augustus (63 BC – 14 AD), the ruler who established the Roman Empire. The series of eleven slabs was found in the middle of the 16th century, probably in Rome, but the cycle is not complete. It decorated the walls of a public building, perhaps a sanctuary. Three reliefs were brought to Budapest (in 1908 and 2000), while the other three are preserved in Spanish private collections.
The fragment shows a triumphal procession. In the centre, there is a man blowing a war trumpet (tuba); the two other figures are too damaged to allow interpretation. The fragment is still of outstanding value, since it preserves the only portraits to survive intact from the entire cycle. It was chiefly these heads that helped to date the series to the age of Claudius (41–54 AD).
Marble analyses conducted by Danielle Decrouez (Geneva, Museum of Natural History) and Karl Ramseyer (University of Bern, Institute of Geological Sciences) have shown that the relief was made of Luna (Carrara) marble. Click here for the detailed results.