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A New Tetrarchic Relief from Nicomedia: Embracing Emperors
Tuna Şare Ağtürk. A New Tetrarchic Relief from Nicomedia: Embracing Emperors

Ancient Nicomedia, the most important capital of the eastern Roman empire during the Tetrarchy, now lies below the modern industrial city of İzmit. The first systematic archaeological research on Diocletian’s capital, supported with a grant from The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), examines a series of monumental reliefs and statues from a terraced imperial cult complex, found in the Çukurbağ district at the heart of modern İzmit. Excavations have brought to light more than 30 relief panels (average ht. 1.0 m x wdth. 1.5 m), the only surviving examples of Late Roman state reliefs that have extensive paint preserved on them. The panels illuminate multiple aspects of the art of the period, including the brightly colored costumes and the new and distinctive self-representation of the tetrarchic emperors and their administration. In this article, one of these relief panels, with a representation of two emperors embracing, is discussed as the precursor to the well-known porphyry Tetrarchs from Venice and the Vatican. It is argued that the relief panel is part of a larger adventus scene that shows the meeting of the two diarchs, Diocletian and Maximian, and thus dates from slightly before the onset of Tetrarchy in 293 C.E.

American Journal of Archaeology 122/3, 2018, pp. 411–426

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Ildar Kayumov
XLegio Forum (in Russian)
Very nice! It's good to see these finds from Nicomedia getting more exposure now - I believe most were discovered 2001-2009 (article here from 2015: Painted Reliefs from Nicomedia.)

Interesting to see a far more naturalistic and 'classical' look to the embracing emperors here too. I would guess the very austere and stylised look of the better known porphyry statues was a later development!
Nathan Ross

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