Now that’s a figure worth looking at — or, that is, a figurine. The marble bust depicts a bearded man’s head and was probably a boxer; boxing was quite popular in Roman times. The piece likely dates back to the era of the emperor Hadrian (117-138 C.E.) or shortly thereafter, according to archaeologists on site.
“To the best of our knowledge, to date no similar artifact made of marble or any other kind of stone bearing the same image that was just found has been discovered in excavations elsewhere in the country,” said Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, directors of the excavation at the site on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Apparently there were two tiny holes that were drilled in the piece’s nape (ouch!), which contained the remnants of metal that was inserted in them. This indicated that the piece was a suspended weight used with hanging scales characteristic of the Roman period.
A foreign merchant carrying the figure was likely staying in the public building that is now being excavated. The building apparently collapsed, which probably made his trip a bust.