The Hippolytos-statue

The Hippolytos-statue Project

The first known Christianised free-standing sculpture in history, the so called “Hippolytos-statue”, appears to be a “transvestite”: the bearded philosopher wears female underwear and is seated on a throne covered by inscriptions. The anomaly has its roots in the Renaissance reassembly of antique torso(s)/fragment(s) and in a “modern” completion by the antiquarian Pirro Ligorio (1512?-1583). In order to reveal its obscurities and set centuries of guesswork on “rock solid” foundations, the sculpture will be examined by a multidisciplinary and international research consortium using top-notch methodology. Ideally, this methodology should include, petrographic analysis (optical mineralogy), photographic documentation, photogrammetrical documentation and 3D modelling.
A recontextualisation of the statue and it’s most iconic features like the calendars and the list of work titles will shed some light on the (Christian) origins, the (re)usage, and on the Ligorian ‘interpretation’. All of these aspects will result in a better understanding of the Sitz-im-Leben and the ‘purpose’ of the sculpture.

A two days workshop in 02-03. September 2021 aims to contextualise the statue against its (supposed) 3rd century AD backdrop.

This project received a “Research Grant” from the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO).

Associated Researchers

Prof. Dr. Patrick Degryse, Faculty of Science, KU Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Anthony Dupont, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, Belgium
Dr. András Handl (PI), Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies; KU Leuven, Belgium
Prof. Dr. Stefan Schorn, Faculty of Arts, KU Leuven, Belgium


Partner institutions

Centre for Archaeological Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium
Vatican Apostolic Library, Vatican City