Emona citizenGilded bronze statue
Show menu

Emona citizen

Gilded bronze statue

A gilded bronze portrait statue, known locally as "Emona Citizen", is the only preserved monument with a statue on a column that was erected for a civilian – i.e., not a member of the imperial family – in the entire territory of the Roman Empire. Only three column monuments from the Imperial Age have been preserved, but they are all dedicated to Emperors.
The Emona Citizen is a 145 cm high statue, slightly less than life size, of a young man of the Trajan period wearing a toga – a typical male garment of ancient Rome that could only be worn by free citizens. The entire column monument, composed of the column, capital and statue, was about five metres high and captured the attention of a traveller approaching Emona from the direction of Trojane (Latin: Atrans) from far away.

Where does it come from

The statue was discovered in 1836 during the digging of foundations at the Kazina building site in the centre of Ljubljana. Due to the fact that it wasn't excavated professionally, the knowledge about the appearance of the grave is very scarce.

How old is it

The statue was made in early 2nd century when the territory of modern-day Slovenia was part of the Roman Empire. This land was of strategic importance to the Romans as it was a segment of the main transport routes from Italy to the Danube region and further east. The Romans began settling in Slovene territories after the foundation of Aquileia as a colony, and ultimately fell under Roman dominance in the period of Octavian (later Emperor Augustus). Between 35–33 BC the domination of Rome extended to the Danube River to later annex also Noricum. Conquered lands became part of the Roman Empire and formed Illyricum, Pannonia Province and Noricum Province. Emona was the oldest Roman colony in the territory of today's Slovenia.

How was it made

The statue of the young man was cast from bronze and gilded. The iron pole inside the statue was of lead driven into a marble base. This was fixed to the Corinthian capital on a column shaft.
Object: Emona Citizen 
Description: Funerary monument from Emona most likely modelled upon Trajan's Column in Rome. Originally, the monument consisted of a lower part with an inscription, a column, a capital and a statue on a base. The column itself was about five metres high.
Date/Period: 1st third of 2nd century AD  
Material: Gilded cast bronze 
Dimensions: Height: 145 cm
Findspot: During the digging of foundations for the Kazina building, close to today's Kongresni trg in Ljubljana, Slovenia 
Inv. No.: R 2467

See short documentaries on the famous statue and on the funerary column monument


The statue was repaired already during Roman times, which is indicated by rivets used to fasten the linings to the inner side of the statue. In 1947, the statue was heavily damaged in a fall. The front upper part of the torso was broken into numerous pieces.

The original statue of the Emona Citizen can be seen at the Roman Lapidarium of the National Museum of Slovenia, while the full-size reconstruction of the funerary monument's column is part of the permanent exhibition Roman Stories from the Crossroads.

Further reading

  • Janka Istenič: Stebrni nagrobni kip iz Emone. Arheološki vestnik 64, 2013, pp. 149–175 (summary in English).
  • Janka Istenič: Roman Stories from the Crossroads. Exhibition catalogue. Ljubljana 2015, pp. 80–81.