CIMRM Supplement - Head and Torso of Cautes. Alba Iulia, Romania
Head of statue of Cautes, currently embedded in a wall. From: Academia.edu.
Body of statue of Cautes, holding the head of the bull. From: Academia.edu.
Head and body of a statue of Cautes, unusually holding the head of the bull. Found by Csaba Szabó.
The torso and the head were discovered accidentally by the author in August 2014 in Alba Iulia (Karlsburg / Gyulafehérvár) at Păcii Street no. 2 (formerly known as Pósta / Postgasse / Piacszeg street) 3. The torso was fixed to the interior wall of one of the service apartments of the Roman Catholic Theology (Seminarium Incarnatae Sapientiae Albae Iuliensae; Hittudományi Főiskola és Papnevelő Intézet) built at the end of the 1990s. The torso and the head were found separately 4. The excavations in 1992 in the courtyard of the institution revealed the northwestern part of the castra legionis XIII Geminae, discovering a contubernium 5. The report does not mention the recently found artefacts. Based on the verbal confirmation of the fellows of the Roman Catholic Theology, we know that the torso was built into the walls of the old building, separately from the head. The torso was found between 1996 and 1998, when the medieval house was severely damaged and rebuilt in its current form. After 2000 it lays on the wall of the current building 6. The head of the statue is walled in inside the basement of the school, near the above-mentioned building, severely damaged by the numerous renderings and modifications on the medieval house. The two artefacts are well known to the students of the Seminar as »Saint Luke the Evangelist« and »the head of Jesus«.
Roman material in secondary or tertiary use, reused for medieval and pre-modern buildings is attested in great numbers in Alba Iulia, where the ruins of the Roman conurbation of Apulum were looted after 1241, especially during the Renaissance (16th-17th centuries) and the Habsburg period (18th century) 7. The earliest phase of the building represented in 1711 on the map of the medieval fort made by the Italian architect, Giovanni Morando Visconti, and rebuilt in the 1990s is dated from the 15th-16th centuries 8. The original location of the statue fragments is impossible to establish.
The torso of the statue is made of marble, most probably from a provincial quarry (fig. 1a-c) 9. The stone is naturally damaged in some parts. The dimensions of the fragment are 37 cm (height) × 29 cm (width) × 6-10 cm (thickness). The thickness of the cloak is 3.5 cm. The preserved part represents the bust of Cautes, torchbearer of Mithras, holding the head of the bull in his left hand. The head, right hand and the inferior part of the torchbearer are missing. The head of the bull is carefully carved with the details of the curly hair of the animal. The left hand of Cautes is rudimentarily carved and oversized. He wears a long tunic, with a fibula on his right shoulder fastening his cloak (chlamys), which is partially preserved mainly on the left, and is very fragmentary on the right side. The oriental dress is decorated with carefully carved pleats. The back part of the cloak is also worked, and a small part of the tresses is preserved, which prove the statuary nature of the artefact. However, the thickness of the fragment suggests that the statue was not free-standing, but surrounded by a wall or niche, intended for a frontal view. Similar analogies from Dacia and other provinces indicate that the monument could be part of a statuary group representing Mithras Tauroctonos with the torchbearers, an individual statue of Cautes represented in a niche of the pronaos or standing on a statue
... Its dimensions (height 19 cm; width of
the head 3.5-4 cm) fit the neck of the torso. The thick hair, curly tresses, rough lines of the face and the break line of the head prove its concordance with the torso. The Phrygian cap is partially preserved. The eyes and nose of the person are superficially carved or deformed due to the poor conditions of the statue. The face represents a young, beardless person with a melancholic expression, a very common iconography for the torchbearers 12. The full height of the statue was approx. 90-100 cm.