​Portrait of Julia Domna

​Portrait of Julia Domna


Syrian-born Julia Domna (170–217 CE), wife of Emperor Septimius Severus, was perhaps the most powerful and famous Roman empress, based on the honors she was granted during her lifetime. She wore thick, long, wavy hair in a style often nicknamed the “helmet.” Experts argue whether or not this is a wig. What do you think?

Julia’s hairstyle was distinctive and widely recognized, whether on coins with her portrait or even on children’s dolls (nos. 16 and 26). It became popular among Roman women, some of whom wore false buns if their hair wasn’t long enough to make the necessary braids.


Work Date:
ca. 203–217 CE
Credit Line:
Yale University Art Gallery Ruth Elizabeth White Fund (2010.143.1)