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Source Image: PR305_03_22 of Columnar Sarcophagus (2) of Aphrodisias: Sarcophagi

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Description

Front of a columnar sarcophagus.

Monument
Aphrodisias: Sarcophagi 
Monument Part
Columnar Sarcophagus (2) 
Monument Type
Sarcophagus 
Material(s)
Aphrodisian marble (Visual identification)  
Date
circa ad 120 - circa ad 250 
Keywords
FigureArchColumnColumnar Sarcophagus  
Collections
Aphrodisias, Site and Museum  

Location

Original Location
Aphrodisias 

Evidence for working practices

1. Toolmarks

Process
Squaring
Tool
Point
Method
Angle: Vertical (90°)
Force: Medium
Description
Rough point chiselling, the vestiges of an initial stage of squaring, can be seen around the figures and in those areas corresponding to the columns of the decorative arcade.

2. Toolmarks

Process
Roughing-out
Tool
Point
Method
Angle: Vertical (90°)
Force: Gentle
Description
The main elements of the architectural framework seem to have been roughed-out more carefully following initial roughing-out. The columns in particular, which were not taken any further, have been roughly defined with the point chisel.

3. Toolmarks

Process
Rough shaping
Tool
Tooth Chisel
Method
Angle: Shallow (40-50°)
Force: Medium
Description
Exactly which stage of work followed this initial roughing-out is unclear but the arches and the capitals has been worked to a flat surface with the tooth chisel. This appears to have been done before any work on the figures was started since the carving around some of the figures cuts through the flattened surfaces of some of the capitals. The bases at the bottom of each column were also marked out.

4. Toolmarks

Process
Rough shaping
Tool
Point
Method
Angle: Vertical (90°)
Force: Gentle
Description
Once the architectural scheme was established work began on the figures, again with the point chisel. All of the figures are quite roughly shaped but certain details of their clothing and attributes are more finely modelled. Surprisingly, all of this work was done with the point chisel.

Notes

This sarcophagus provides important evidence for working practices. Following initial roughing-out it was the architectural framework that was worked first, in particular the arches, capitals and bases which defined how the space was broken up. These appear to have been roughed-out (as evidenced by the columns) and then worked with the tooth chisel before any detailed carving of the figures began; the columns were not shaped with the tooth chisel because the figures were likely to overlap them. On the end (see PR305_04_03) the stages that this roughing-out was broken up into are clear. Only once the architectural framework was defined did work begin on the figures. These were carved individually, with the carver simply working in from the front plane of the stone, shaping them to a highly defined state before turning to the background around them. This is a working practice also found on figured sarcophagi at Rome but it is a different technique from that used on the garland sarcophagi where the form of the design was blocked-out and the surrounding surface cut right back to the background before detailed carving started.

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