Tiberius was 56 years old when he succeeded the founder of the dynasty, Augustus, but the portrait shows his face smooth and bony – just as his predecessor was always portrayed young. His features are reminiscent of those of Augustus, even though they were not relatives: this is how the portrait proclaimed Tiberius as the previous emperor’s heir. The draped head indicates that he was presenting an offering to the gods.
Originally the statue probably depicted the emperor Caligula (37–41 AD). After his death, however, his portraits were reused in an attempt to erase the memory of his wicked rule.
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 portrait was made of Parian (Paros-Marathi) marble. Click here for the detailed results.