Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Meidad Suchowolski
Head of Medusa
Hellenistic period, 3rd–2nd century BCE
H: 13; W: 14 cm
Bequest of Joseph Ternbach, New York, to American Friends of the Israel Museum
Accession number: 87.160.325
Medusa was a monster whose penetrating gaze turned mortals to stone. She was ultimately slain by the Greek hero Perseus, who cut off her head. In later versions of the myth, the monster was humanized: according to one of these accounts, she had once been a beautiful girl, who was given her monstrous form because she dared to claim her beauty greater than Athena’s. This head, with its agonized expression, belongs to this later type.

Merhav, Rivka et al., A Glimpse into the Past: The Joseph Ternbach Collection, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1981

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir