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Source Image: PR223_01_15 of Columnar Sarcophagus (1) of Ostia: Miscellaneous Sarcophagi

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Description

Detail of columnar sarcophagus from Ostia.

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
FigureCapitalColumnar Sarcophagus  
Collections
Ostia Antica  

Location

Original Location
Ostia 

Evidence for working practices

1. Toolmarks

Process
Rough shaping
Tool
Flat Chisel
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Medium
Description
The face of the figure on the right has been roughly worked with the flat chisel but not taken any further - unlike the one on the left, which was finished.

2. Toolmarks

Process
Detailing
Tool
Drill
Method
Vertical (90°)
Description
Drill-use can be noted in the capitals and the drapery of the figures.

3. Toolmarks

Process
Detailing
Tool
Channelling Tool
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Gentle
Description
A channelling tool has been used following the drill in the architectural ornament and 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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