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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 13:59 GMT
Hadrian statue heads up to wall
Hadrian head
The statue head was preserved by silt in the River Thames
A bronze head of Roman Emperor Hadrian will travel to both ends of Hadrian's wall ahead of an exhibition dedicated to the leader at the British Museum.

It will be the first time that the 2nd century head has left the London museum since it was found in the River Thames 200 years ago.

The head, originally part of a statue, will go on show in Carlisle from February and in Wallsend from April.

Hadrian: Empire and Conflict opens at the British Museum on 24 July.

The statue of Hadrian would have been on public display in London in AD 122 to commemorate the emperor's visit to Britain.

The underwater silts of the Thames, where the head was dumped, protected it and ensured it was well preserved.

Contradictions

Hadrian, a military man who combined ruthless suppression of dissent with cultural tolerance, ruled the Roman Empire at its height from AD 117 to 138.

One of his first acts was to recognise that there had been imperial overreach and withdraw Roman troops from Mesopotamia - modern day Iraq.

He later ordered the building of a 73 mile-long wall in the north of England to mark the Roman frontier.

The leader was also famed for his interests in architecture and Greek culture - and had a young Greek lover, Antinous, who accompanied him on his travels around the empire.

The British Museum said its exhibition would "bring the contradictions in Hadrian's personality and reign into sharp focus".

Many of the 200 objects going on display, which include "dramatic sculpture, exquisite bronzes and architectural fragments," will be seen for the first time in the UK.

The head will go on show in Carlisle's Tullie House before moving to the Segedunum Roman Fort and Museum in Wallsend.



SEE ALSO
Giant statue of Hadrian unearthed
09 Aug 07 |  Science/Nature
Fears over historic wall erosion
27 Jun 06 |  England

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