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Source Image: PR223_01_20 of Columnar Sarcophagus (1) of Ostia: Miscellaneous Sarcophagi

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Description

Detail of a sarcophagus lid shaped as a couch (klinē) 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
FigureColumnar 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
The couch itself has only been roughly worked with the point chisel.

2. Toolmarks

Process
Rough shaping
Tool
Flat Chisel
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Medium
Description
The figures are shaped with the flat chisel but not to a finished state.

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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