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Source Image: PR223_01_14 of Columnar Sarcophagus (1) of Ostia: Miscellaneous Sarcophagi

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Description

Columnar sarcophagus from Ostia with a lid shaped as couch (klinē) with reclining figures on.

Monument
Ostia: Miscellaneous Sarcophagi 
Monument Part
Columnar Sarcophagus (1) 
Monument Type
Sarcophagus 
Material(s)
Marble (Visual identification)  
Date
circa ad 200 - circa ad 300 
Keywords
Columnar SarcophagusKline Lid  
Collections
Ostia Antica  

Location

Original Location
Ostia 

Evidence for working practices

1. Toolmarks

Process
Roughing-out
Tool
Point
Method
Angle: Vertical (90°)
Force: Medium
Description
Rough work with the point chisel is visible on the side of this lid and also along the couch where it never received any further carving.

2. Toolmarks

Process
Rough shaping
Tool
Flat Chisel
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Medium
Description
Areas of the figures, especially the faces, have been roughly worked with the flat chisel but not taken any further.

3. Toolmarks

Process
Detailing
Tool
Drill
Method
Vertical (90°)
Description
Drilling can be seen in the drapery of the figures, some of the architectural elements and also in the elaborate foliage running along the top of the chest.

4. Toolmarks

Process
Detailing
Tool
Channelling Tool
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Gentle
Description
Following drilling a channelling tool has been used to create the grooves in the decoration. This can be seen in the architectural details and also the drapery of the figures.

Notes

This is one example of a large number of Roman sarcophagi on which the heads of the figures (on chest and lid) are not finished. The reasons for this lack of finish have been greatly debated and various explanations proposed. One possibility is that this sarcophagus was purchased in this condition with the portraits left for finishing but the buyer could not afford to have them finished or had no desire to finish them. Another possibility is that they were meant to be finished once the individuals buried in the sarcophagus had died but this never ended up happening. Finally it has been proposed that this lack of finish was deliberate and represented contemporary superstitions.

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