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Faculty of Classics

 
pots with faces/heads on display in cabinet

Beheading the Body

A temporary display curated by Tulsi Parikh and Hanneke Reijnierse-Salisbury, in Bay C

 

What's in a head? This curated cabinet isn’t so much about the body beheaded as about the head disembodied. It brings together images in different media, and from different contexts, which share an interest in the head as represented independently from the body. Cultures all over the world see the head, and the face, as the seat of identity – it is, after all, usually the most readily identifiable part of our bodies.

Idealised female heads on Greek pottery, snarling monsters, merry satyrs, masks in the shape of wrinkled old women... Look beyond the full-bodied sculptures - the Doryphoros, for instance, standing next to the display cabinet in Bay C - and isolated heads abound in classical archaeology. But explore the Roman portraits in Bay J, and viewers will find that these questions are not restricted to tiny remnants of broken pottery but are to be grappled with throughout the Cast Gallery as a whole. Many of the bodies represented in this collection are fragmented, some by accidents of survival but others very deliberately.

How does viewing just a head concentrate the mind on questions of identity and personhood? And why are those identities often so very hard to pin down...? The significance of all these heads cannot be singular: its meaning must be multiple, shifting through different examples and contexts.

 

display cabinet with broken masks and pottery sherds

 

grads curate logo

Beheading the Body is part of our Grads Curate programme, showcasing research from the Faculty of Classics' graduate students.

 

 

Every cast tells two stories.
One ancient. One modern.

Admission is free.

 

We are open

 

Extended Opening Announcement

From Tuesday 5 October, we will:

  • No longer require visitors to book tickets
  • Extend opening hours to 10am-5pm, Tuesday to Friday
  • Remove our one way system
  • Welcome group bookings again

 

Opening hours

Tues-Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat: 2-5pm (univ. term-time only)
Sun and Monday: Closed

Closed on Bank Holidays

 

Saturday Opening

We are currently open on Saturdays until Saturday 27 November 2021.

Please note: We are only open on Saturdays during University of Cambridge term time.

 

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Museum of Classical Archaeology
Faculty of Classics
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge
CB3 9DA

We do not have an entrance on the road. Find us inside the Sidgwick Site.

 

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All images and material on our websites are ©Museum of Classical Archaeology, University of Cambridge unless otherwise stated. If you would like to reproduce our images, you can now do so for non-commercial use at no charge.

See also our Copyright Notice and Take Down Policy.