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Source Image: PR223_01_03 of Strigil Sarcophagus (1) of Ostia: Miscellaneous Sarcophagi

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Description

Detail of central panel of a strigil sarcophagus from Ostia.

Monument
Ostia: Miscellaneous Sarcophagi 
Monument Part
Strigil Sarcophagus (1) 
Monument Type
Sarcophagus 
Material(s)
Marble (Visual identification)  
Date
ad 200 - ad 350 
Keywords
FigureStrigil Sarcophagus  
Collections
Ostia Antica  

Location

Original Location
Ostia 

Evidence for working practices

1. - Toolmarks

Process
Flattening
Tool
Flat Chisel
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Gentle
Description
The flat border around the figured panel was carved with a flat chisel. This was done before work on the figured panel was started as is clear from those areas where the figured scene cuts into it - as along the left (behind the chair) and along the top (above the tree). This panel was probably left as a rough boss while the fine work on the frame was done.

1. - Toolmarks

Process
Fine shaping
Tool
Roundel
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Gentle
Description
The strigils are carved with a round-headed chisel. This work seems to have been done before any work on the figured panels began.

2. Toolmarks

Process
Rough shaping
Tool
Point
Method
Angle: Vertical (90°)
Force: Medium
Description
The basic forms of the figures in the panel were initially shaped with the point chisel, marks of which are visible between the figures where the background has not been carved any further.

3. Toolmarks

Process
Rough shaping
Tool
Flat Chisel
Method
Angle: Steep (60-70°)
Force: Medium
Description
The figures themselves are modelled roughly with the flat chisel.

4. Toolmarks

Process
Fine shaping
Tool
Flat Chisel
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Gentle
Description
Finer flat chiselling is visible on the face of this figure and certain other details, such as the leaves of the trees at the top. The carver was clearly working from the front of the block into the stone, carving both the general forms and their details as they went, switching between point and flat chisel. They did not, in other words, rough out the whole design all over before starting on the details. The background was saved till the end and in this example never done. This is typical of Roman carving, especially on sarcophagi.

Notes

The strigils on this example are finished while the figured panels are only roughly worked. This would seem to indicate that these two elements of the design were divided up, possibly between workers or even between locations. Sarcophagi with their strigils already applied have been found in the quarries.

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