PHOTOS | The Head of the Roman Statue of Faustina Returns to Libya After 75 Years – Al Marsad

The head of a Roman era statue of Faustina the Younger, which was smuggled during WWII from the Apollonia Museum in Soussa in Libya, was returned by the Austrian Minister of Culture to the Libyan authorities. 

(LIBYA, 5 March 2021) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of National Accord (GNA) announced on Thursday during a formal handover ceremony, that the Libyan Embassy in Austria had recovered the head of the marble statue of Faustina the Younger, which dates back to the Antonine era and which had been missing for 75 years. The handover was done with the approval of the With the approval of the Universalmuseum Joanneum in Graz and Austrian Antiquities department.

The GNA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Libyan Embassy had recovered the head of the statue in an official ceremony, in the presence of the Libyan Ambassador to Austria, Jalal Al-Ashi, and on the Austrian side, the Minister of Culture in the State of Styria, the Austrian ambassador to Libya, and the director of the Universalmuseum Joanneum in Graz.

According to the ministry, the handover was made after diplomatic discussions between the Libyan Embassy and the state of Austria, and based on the follow-up by the Libyan Antiquities Department upon the directives of GNA’s Ministry of Foreign. The event was significant due to the importance of recovering lost and smuggled Libyan antiquities which are currently abroad.

Ambassador Ashi, in his speech at the official ceremony, stressed that he valued the joint efforts between the authorities of the two friendly countries to protect cultural heritage wherever it was, and the depth of the Libyan-Austrian relations.

During the ceremony, the Libyan side presented a draft cooperation agreement between the departments of antiquities in both countries, which is to be studied by the Austrian side and signed at a later date.


The marble statue of the head of Faustina the Younger dates back to the Roman era. She was the youngest daughter of the Roman Emperor Antoninos Pius and the Roman Empress Faustina the eldest. She eventually became a Roman Empress and wife to her maternal cousin Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

The statue was discovered in May 1967 in Kaiserwald (in modern-day Latvia), where buildings from the Nazi era had existed. Research, however, showed that it was the same marble head that was displayed at Apollonia Museum in Soussa in Libya, but which was stolen during World War II.

Appollonia, modern-day Soussa in north eastern Libya.

This marble statue of Faustina the Younger underwent detailed examination by a German committee investigating cultural assets confiscated by the Nazi regime. The committee recommended that the statue of Faustina be returned to its original historical home in Libya.



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