This book explores the provenance of the so-called Berkeley Herm of Plato, a sculptural portrait that Stephen G. Miller first encountered over thirty years ago in a university storage basement. The head, languishing since its arrival in 1902, had become detached from the body, or herm, and had been labeled a fake. In 2002, while preparing another book, Miller—now an experienced archaeologist—needed an illustration of Plato, remembered this piece, and took another look. The marble, he recognized immediately, was from the Greek islands, the inscription appeared ancient, and the ribbons visible on the head were typical of those in Greek athletic scenes. The Berkeley Plato, rich in scientific, archaeological, and historical detail, tells the fascinating story of how Miller was able to authenticate this long-dismissed treasure. His conclusion, that it is an ancient Roman copy possibly dating from the time of Hadrian, is further supported by art conservation scientist John Twilley, whose essay appears as an appendix. Miller's discovery makes a significant contribution to the worlds of art history, philosophy, archaeology, and sports history and will serve as a starting point for new research in the back rooms of museums.
Stephen G. Miller is Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of many books, including Arete: Greek Sports from the Ancient Sources, Third Edition (UC Press). John Twilley is an independent art conservation scientist.