Preliminary draft release. Additional documentation is forthcoming



Small marble head (Aphrodite? Artemis?)

Head of female statue in white marble (Aphrodite? Artemis?). Šāmī shrine (Baḵtīārī mountains), Ḵūzestān province, Iran. Third or second century BC. Chance find, reportedly of 1935.  National Museum of Iran, no. 2216. H. 0.15 m.


The marble head reportedly formed a part of a small group of bronze and marble statuary found during the construction of a dwelling at the mountain site of Šāmī, where Aurel Stein's subsequent short excavation brought to light the remains of a shrine that was used in the Parthian period and possibly from as early as Seleucid times. Stein saw the group at Iḏeh, at the house of the military administrator of the Mālamīr district, where it was kept until the moment of its transportation to Tehrān. (See Stein 1938: 324 [= Anonymous 1939: 234]; idem 1940: 130, 133-134, ill. 49 right.)
The piece is battered at the front. According to the description of Malcolm Colledge (1979: 224-225), it is also not entirely finished at the top and the back, which were presumably not intended to be visible, and bears at the top 'a squarish dowel (?) hole, perhaps for attaching a headdress'. The technique of carving would further indicate a date in the mid- to late Hellenistic period.
If female, the head could perhaps depict Aphrodite (Stein; cf. Ghirshman 1962: 19, fig. 25, and Colledge 1979: 225, fig. 3) or Artemis (Callieri 2007: 77). The tentative suggestion that it might belong originally with a marble female torso, which was obtained at Iḏeh but comes from an unknown archaeological context, remains to be investigated (Callieri 2007: 76-77 and n. 43).


Anonymous. 1939. 'Notes and news: Bronze statue from Khuzistan, Iran.' Antiquity 13: 234-236.

Callieri, P. 2007. L'archéologie du Fārs à l'époque hellénistique. Quatre leçons au Collège de France, 8, 15, 22 et 29 mars 2007. Persika 11. Paris.

Colledge, M. A. R. 1979. 'Sculptors' stone-carving techniques in Seleucid and Parthian Iran, and their place in the "Parthian" cultural milieu: some preliminary observations.' East and West 29: 221-240.

Ghirshman, R. 1962. Iran. Parthians and Sassanians [trans. by Gilbert, S. and Emmons, J.]. The Arts of Mankind 3. London. [Paris 1962 edition, Iran. Parthes et Sassanides. Collection l' Univers des Formes 3]

Stein, A. 1938. 'An archaeological journey in western Iran.' The Geographical Journal 92.4 (Oct.): 313-342.

——. 1940. Old Routes of Western Īrān. Narrative of an Archaeological Journey, Carried Out and Recorded by Sir Aurel Stein. Antiquities Examined, Described and Illustrated with the Assistance of Fred H. Andrews. London.

Cite this entry:

Zournatzi, A. 2016. 'Šamī: Small marble head (Aphrodite? Artemis?).' In Mapping Ancient Cultural Encounters: Greeks in Iran ca. 550 BC - ca. AD 650. Online edition, preliminary draft release. Available at