From The Daily Telegraph, October 3 20009
By Andy Bloxham
Head found at Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex, Nero head: Mystery head could be rare statue of Emperor Nero The damaged head will be scanned and recreated to see if it is a rare marble statue of Nero as a young boy Photo: SOLENT
The chunk of stone, which is the right side of a boy's head and his lower face, is to be scanned using sophisticated technology and the remainder generated by computer to suggest what he may have looked like.
Archaeologists suspect the sculpture, which was found at Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex, is of Nero as a young boy.
The only other known statues of Nero are in the Italian National Museum of Antiquities in Parma and the Louvre Museum in Paris.
One of the reasons that so few survive is because he was declared an enemy of the state after he was pushed from power in a military coup and images of him were ordered destroyed.
According to ancient historians, Nero was the emperor who "fiddled while Rome burned" during the city's Great Fire in 64AD and ordered the deaths of his mother, stepfather and pregnant wife, among others, to keep his grip on power.
As ruler of the Roman empire, he controlled Britain and his forces put down the revolt led by Boudica, also called Boadicea, and her tribe, the Iceni, in 60AD.
He committed suicide in 68AD.
The latest find was actually discovered in 1964 but until recently it was always believed to be that of a king called Togidubnes or a member of his family.
Now similarities have been found between the Fishbourne statue and the only others in Italy and France.
The rounded cheeks, full, curving lips, rounded lower face, slightly protruding ears, curling locks of hair and almond-shaped eyes are all very similar.
As a man, the Roman historian Suetonius described Nero as "about the average height, his body marked with spots and malodorous, his hair light blond, his features regular rather than attractive, his eyes blue and somewhat weak, his neck over thick, his belly prominent, and his legs very slender".
Although this would only be the third statue of him, busts and coins bearing his image are more common.
Dr Rob Symmons, curator of archaeology at Fishbourne, will work with Bournemouth University lecturers Dr Miles Russell and Harry Manley to produce 3D scans of the head.
The scans will recreate the face, which was damaged with an axe, to test the theory that it could in fact be the emperor.
Dr Symmons said: "This is very exciting as the scan will allow us to see for the first time what the boy really looked like and may also reveal his identity.
"We have always assumed he was related to the Royal family who lived here but it may be that it is even more special and is a rare depiction of Nero."
Dr Russell said: "They tried to eradicate the fact that Nero ever existed.
"This particular head is extremely well made in a very expensive type of marble and someone has taken an axe to it and smashed it almost to oblivion.
"Why else would they do that?"