Sarcophagus

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Stone sarcophagus of Pharaoh Merenptah Egypt.KV8.01.jpg
Stone sarcophagus of Pharaoh Merenptah
Constantinople Christian sarcophagus with XI monogram, c. 400 Contantinople Christian sarcophagus circa 400.jpg
Constantinople Christian sarcophagus with XI monogram, c. 400

A sarcophagus (plural sarcophagi) is a box-like funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved in stone, and usually displayed above ground, though it may also be buried. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σάρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγεῖν phagein meaning "to eat"; hence sarcophagus means "flesh-eating", from the phrase lithos sarkophagos (λίθος σαρκοφάγος), "flesh-eating stone". The word also came to refer to a particular kind of limestone that was thought to rapidly facilitate the decomposition of the flesh of corpses contained within it due to the chemical properties of the limestone itself. [1] [2]

A cadaver is a dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being. Students in medical school study and dissect cadavers as a part of their education. Others who study cadavers include archaeologists and artists.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Limestone Sedimentary rocks made of calcium carbonate

Limestone is a carbonate sedimentary rock that is often composed of the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, foraminifera, and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). A closely related rock is dolomite, which contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2. In old USGS publications, dolomite was referred to as magnesian limestone, a term now reserved for magnesium-deficient dolomites or magnesium-rich limestones.

Contents

History

Roman-era sarcophagi at Worms, Germany Worms sarcophagi.jpg
Roman-era sarcophagi at Worms, Germany

Sarcophagi were most often designed to remain above ground. In Ancient Egypt, a sarcophagus acted like an outer shell.

The Hagia Triada sarcophagus is a stone sarcophagus elaborately painted in fresco; one style of later Ancient Greek sarcophagus in painted pottery is seen in Klazomenian sarcophagi, produced around the Ionian Greek city of Klazomenai, where most examples were found, between 550 BC (Late Archaic) and 470 BC. They are made of coarse clay in shades of brown to pink. Added to the basin-like main sarcophagus is a broad, rectangular frame, often covered with a white slip and then painted. The huge Lycian Tomb of Payava, now in the British Museum, is a royal tomb monument of about 360 BC designed for an open-air placing, a grand example of a common Lycian style.

Hagia Triada sarcophagus

The Hagia Triada sarcophagus is a late Bronze Age 137 cm-long limestone sarcophagus. It was originally dated to 1400 BC and was rediscovered in Hagia Triada on Crete in 1903. It provides probably the most comprehensive iconography of a pre-Homeric thysiastikis ceremony and one of the best pieces of information on noble burial customs when Crete was under Mycenaean rule, combining features of Minoan and Mycenaean style and subject matter. The sarcophagus is on display in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.

Fresco Mural painting upon freshly laid lime plaster

Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid, or wet lime plaster. Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall. The word fresco is derived from the Italian adjective fresco meaning "fresh", and may thus be contrasted with fresco-secco or secco mural painting techniques, which are applied to dried plaster, to supplement painting in fresco. The fresco technique has been employed since antiquity and is closely associated with Italian Renaissance painting.

Klazomenian sarcophagi ancient greek painted sarcophagi made of clay

Klazomenian Sarcophagi are a type of ancient Greek sarcophagus named after the Ionian Greek city of Klazomenai, where most examples were found. They are made of coarse clay in shades of brown to pink. Added to the basin-like main sarcophagus is a rectangular broad frame, often covered with a white slip and then painted.

Ancient Roman sarcophagi—sometimes metal or plaster as well as limestone—were popular from about the reign of Trajan, [3] and often elaborately carved, until the early Christian burial preference for interment underground, often in a limestone sepulchre, led to their falling out of favor. [2] However, there are many important Early Christian sarcophagi from the 3rd to 4th centuries.

Ancient Roman sarcophagi

In the burial practices of ancient Rome and Roman funerary art, marble and limestone sarcophagi elaborately carved in relief were characteristic of elite inhumation burials from the 2nd to the 4th centuries AD. At least 10,000 Roman sarcophagi have survived, with fragments possibly representing as many as 20,000. Although mythological scenes have been mostly widely studied, sarcophagus relief has been called the "richest single source of Roman iconography," and may also depict the deceased's occupation or life course, military scenes, and other subject matter. The same workshops produced sarcophagi with Jewish or Christian imagery. Early Christian sarcophagi produced from the late 3rd century onwards, represent the earliest form of large Christian sculpture, and are important for the study of Early Christian art.

Trajan Augustus

Trajan was Roman emperor from 98 to 117. Officially declared by the Senate optimus princeps, Trajan is remembered as a successful soldier-emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history, leading the empire to attain its maximum territorial extent by the time of his death. He is also known for his philanthropic rule, overseeing extensive public building programs and implementing social welfare policies, which earned him his enduring reputation as the second of the Five Good Emperors who presided over an era of peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean world.

Christian burial Funeral in Christian traditions

A Christian burial is the burial of a deceased person with specifically Christian ecclesiastical rites; typically, in consecrated ground. Until recent times Christians generally objected to cremation because it interfered with the concept of the resurrection of the body, and practiced inhumation almost exclusively. Today this opposition has all but vanished among Protestants. Catholics are now able to be cremated also, and this is rapidly becoming more common, but the Eastern Orthodox Churches still mostly forbid it.

The limestone relief on this Roman sarcophagus, c. AD 190, depicts the Triumph of Dionysus. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland. Roman - Sarcophagus with the Triumph of Dionysus - Walters 2331.jpg
The limestone relief on this Roman sarcophagus, c. AD 190, depicts the Triumph of Dionysus . Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.

Most Roman examples were designed to be placed against a wall and are decorated on three of the sides only. Sarcophagi continued to be used in Christian Europe for important figures, especially rulers and leading church figures, and by the High Middle Ages often had a recumbent tomb effigy lying on the lid. More plain sarcophagi were placed in crypts, of which the most famous examples include the Habsburg Imperial Crypt in Vienna, Austria. The term tends to be less often used to describe Medieval, Renaissance, and later examples.

High Middle Ages Period in European history from 1000 to 1250 CE

The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period of European history that commenced around 1000 and lasted until around 1250. The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and were followed by the Late Middle Ages, which ended around 1500.

Tomb effigy

A tomb effigy, usually a recumbent effigy or in French gisant is a sculpted figure on a tomb monument depicting in effigy the deceased. These compositions were developed in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, and continued in use through the Renaissance and early modern period; they are still sometimes used. They typically represent the deceased in a state of "eternal repose", lying with hands folded in prayer and awaiting resurrection. A husband and wife may be depicted lying side by side. An important official or leader may be shown holding his attributes of office or dressed in the formal attire of his official status or social class.

Imperial Crypt burial place of the House of Habsburg

The Imperial Crypt, also called the Capuchin Crypt (Kapuzinergruft), is a burial chamber beneath the Capuchin Church and monastery in Vienna, Austria. It was founded in 1618 and dedicated in 1632, and located on the Neuer Markt square of the Innere Stadt, near the Hofburg Palace. Since 1633, the Imperial Crypt serves as the principal place of entombment for the members of the House of Habsburg. The bones of 145 Habsburg royalty, plus urns containing the hearts or cremated remains of four others, are here, including 12 emperors and 18 empresses. The visible 107 metal sarcophagi and five heart urns range in style from puritan plain to exuberant rococo. Some of the dozen resident Capuchin friars continue their customary role as the guardians and caretakers of the crypt, along with their other pastoral work in Vienna. The most recent entombment was in 2011.150

In the early modern period, lack of space tended to make sarcophagi impractical in churches, but chest tombs or false sarcophagi, empty and usually bottomless cases placed over an underground burial, became popular in outside locations such as cemeteries and churchyards, especially in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, where memorials were mostly not highly decorated and the extra cost of a false sarcophagus over a headstone acted as an indication of social status.

The early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages of the post-classical era. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the post-classical age, known as the Middle Ages, through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions and is variously demarcated by historians as beginning with the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Renaissance period in Europe, the Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent, and the Age of Discovery and ending around the French Revolution in 1789.

United States

Warner Tomb in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Warner in Laurel Hill.jpg
Warner Tomb in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sarcophagi, usually "false", made a return to the cemeteries of America during the last quarter of the 19th century, at which time, according to a New York company which built sarcophagi, "it was decidedly the most prevalent of all memorials in our cemeteries". [4] They continued to be popular into the 1950s, at which time the popularity of flat memorials (making for easier grounds maintenance) made them obsolete. Nonetheless, a 1952 catalog from the memorial industry still included eight pages of them, broken down into Georgian and Classical detail, a Gothic and Renaissance adaptation, and a Modern variant. [5] The image shows sarcophagi from the late 19th century located in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The one in the back, the Warner Monument created by Alexander Milne Calder (1879), features the spirit or soul of the deceased being released.

Georgian architecture set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840

Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I, George II, George III, and George IV—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830. The style was revived in the late 19th century in the United States as Colonial Revival architecture and in the early 20th century in Great Britain as Neo-Georgian architecture; in both it is also called Georgian Revival architecture. In the United States the term "Georgian" is generally used to describe all buildings from the period, regardless of style; in Britain it is generally restricted to buildings that are "architectural in intention", and have stylistic characteristics that are typical of the period, though that covers a wide range.

Classical architecture Architectural style

Classical architecture usually denotes architecture which is more or less consciously derived from the principles of Greek and Roman architecture of classical antiquity, or sometimes even more specifically, from the works of the Roman architect Vitruvius. Different styles of classical architecture have arguably existed since the Carolingian Renaissance, and prominently since the Italian Renaissance. Although classical styles of architecture can vary greatly, they can in general all be said to draw on a common "vocabulary" of decorative and constructive elements. In much of the Western world, different classical architectural styles have dominated the history of architecture from the Renaissance until the second world war, though it continues to inform many architects to this day.

Gothic architecture Style of architecture

Gothic architecture is a style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. Originating in 12th-century France, it was widely used, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

Asia

In the Mekong Delta in southwestern Vietnam, it is common for families to inter their members in sarcophagi near their homes, thus allowing ready access for visits as a part of the indigenous tradition of ancestor worship.

In Sulawesi, Indonesia, waruga are a traditional form of sarcophagus.

India

Nearly 140 years after British archaeologist Alexander Rea unearthed a sarcophagus from the hillocks of Pallavaram in Tamil Nadu, an identical artifact dating back by more than 2,000 years has been discovered in the same locality. [6]

Spain

Layos Sarcophagus, Museu Frederic Mares. Sarcofago paleocristiano de Layos, Toledo.jpg
Layos Sarcophagus, Museu Frederic Marès.

Phoenician and Paleochristian sarcophagi have been found in the Iberian Peninsula. [7] [8]

Related Research Articles

Alexander Sarcophagus

The Alexander Sarcophagus is a late 4th century BC Hellenistic stone sarcophagus adorned with bas-relief carvings of Alexander the Great. The work is remarkably well preserved and has been celebrated for its high aesthetic achievement. It is considered the outstanding holding of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

Hypogeum An underground temple or tomb.

A hypogeum or hypogaeum is an underground temple or tomb.

Roman sculpture Sculpture of ancient Rome

The study of Roman sculpture is complicated by its relation to Greek sculpture. Many examples of even the most famous Greek sculptures, such as the Apollo Belvedere and Barberini Faun, are known only from Roman Imperial or Hellenistic "copies". At one time, this imitation was taken by art historians as indicating a narrowness of the Roman artistic imagination, but, in the late 20th century, Roman art began to be reevaluated on its own terms: some impressions of the nature of Greek sculpture may in fact be based on Roman artistry.

Hierapolis ancient city in Phrygia (now Pamukkale, Turkey)

Hierapolis was an ancient Greek city located on hot springs in classical Phrygia in southwestern Anatolia. Its ruins are adjacent to modern Pamukkale in Turkey and currently comprise an archaeological museum designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

İstanbul Archaeology Museums Archaeology museum in Istanbul, Turkey

The Istanbul Archaeology Museums are a group of three archaeological museums located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey, near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace.

Etruscan art

Etruscan art was produced by the Etruscan civilization in central Italy between the 10th and 1st centuries BC. From around 750 BC it was heavily influenced by Greek art, which was imported by the Etruscans, but always retained distinct characteristics. Particularly strong in this tradition were figurative sculpture in terracotta, wall-painting and metalworking especially in bronze. Jewellery and engraved gems of high quality were produced.

Funerary art Art associated with a repository for the remains of the dead

Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. The term encompasses a wide variety of forms, including cenotaphs, tomb-like monuments which do not contain human remains, and communal memorials to the dead, such as war memorials, which may or may not contain remains, and a range of prehistoric megalithic constructs. Funerary art may serve many cultural functions. It can play a role in burial rites, serve as an article for use by the dead in the afterlife, and celebrate the life and accomplishments of the dead, whether as part of kinship-centred practices of ancestor veneration or as a publicly directed dynastic display. It can also function as a reminder of the mortality of humankind, as an expression of cultural values and roles, and help to propitiate the spirits of the dead, maintaining their benevolence and preventing their unwelcome intrusion into the lives of the living.

Tomb of the Scipios grave

The Tomb of the Scipios, also called the hypogaeum Scipionum, was the common tomb of the patrician Scipio family during the Roman Republic for interments between the early 3rd century BC and the early 1st century AD. Then it was abandoned and within a few hundred years its location was lost.

Rhodiapolis City in ancient Lycia

Rhodiapolis, also known as Rhodia (Ῥοδία) and Rhodiopolis (Ῥοδιόπολις), was a city in ancient Lycia. Today it is located on a hill northwest of the modern town Kumluca in Antalya Province, Turkey.

Antiphellus ancient Greek city

Antiphellus or Antiphellos was city that acted as the port of Phellus (Phellos) in Lycia. It was at the head of a bay on the south coast. Sir Francis Beaufort, the discoverer of this ancient site, gave the contemporary name of Vathy to the bay at the head of which Antiphellus stands.

Tomb of Payava

The Tomb of Payava is a Lycian tall rectangular free-standing barrel-vaulted stone sarcophagus, and one of the most famous tombs of Xanthos. It was built in the Achaemenid Persian Empire, for Payava who was probably the ruler of Xanthos, Lycia at the time, in around 360 BC. The tomb was discovered in 1838 and brought to England in 1844 by the explorer Sir Charles Fellows. He described it as a 'Gothic-formed Horse Tomb'. According to Melanie Michailidis, though bearing a "Greek appearance", the Tomb of Payava, the Harpy Tomb and the Nereid Monument were built according main Zoroastrian criteria "by being composed of thick stone, raised on plinths off the ground, and having single windowless chambers".

Harpy Tomb Tomb in Turkey

The Harpy Tomb is a marble chamber from a pillar tomb that stands in the abandoned city of Xanthos, capital of ancient Lycia, a region of southwestern Anatolia in what is now Turkey. Built in the Persian Achaemenid Empire, and dating to approximately 480–470 BC, the chamber topped a tall pillar and was decorated with marble panels carved in bas-relief. The tomb was built for an Iranian prince or governor of Xanthus, perhaps Kybernis.

Trebenna

Trebenna (Τρεβέννα) or Trabenna (Τραβέννα) was a city in ancient Lycia, at the border with Pamphylia, and at times ascribed to that latter region. Its ruins are located east of the modern town Çağlarca in the Konyaaltı district of Antalya Province, Turkey. The site lies 22 kilometers to the west of Antalya.

Royal Kurgan Kurgan in eastern Crimea

The Royal Kurgan or Tsarskiy Kurgan from the 4th century BC, is one of the most impressive tumuli (kurgans) of the eastern Crimea. The burial barrow is located in the present-day Kerch, which developed out of the ancient Greek town Panticapaeum (Παντικάπαιον) founded by Miletus.

Cyaneae human settlement

Cyaneae was a town of ancient Lycia, or perhaps three towns known collectively by the name, on what is now the southern coast of Turkey. William Martin Leake says that its remains were discovered west of Andriaca. The place, which is at the head of Port Tristomo, was determined by an inscription. Leake observes that in some copies of Pliny it is written Cyane; in Hierocles and the Notitiae Episcopatuum it is Cyaneae. To Spratt and Forbes, Cyaneae appeared to be a city ranking in importance with Phellus and Candyba, but in a better state of preservation. No longer a residential bishopric, Cyanae is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.

Roman funerary art changed throughout the course of the Republic and the Empire and comprised many different forms. There were two main burial practices used by the Romans throughout history, one being cremation, another inhumation. The vessels that resulted from these practices include sarcophagi, ash chests, urns, and altars. In addition to these, buildings such as mausoleums, stelae, and other monuments were also popular forms used to commemorate the dead. The method by which Romans were memorialized was determined by social class, religion, and other factors. While monuments to the dead were constructed within Roman cities, the remains themselves were interred outside the cities.

Konya Archaeological Museum

Konya Archaeological Museum is a state archaeological museum in Konya, Turkey. Established in 1901, it had been relocated twice before moving to its present location in 1962. One of the most prominent displays in the museum is of sarcophagi and other antiquities from the ancient city of Çatalhöyük. Other exhibits relate to the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and the Byzantine periods; artifacts consist of ceramic ware, stone and bronze wares, ornaments and inscriptions. A prominent display is of a marble sarcophagus of the 3rd century BC with elaborate sculpting events depicting the life of Hercules. In the outer open yard of the museum, there are a number of small sculptures, sarcophagi, column heads, and epigraphy.

Tombs at Xanthos Tomb complex in Turkey

Xanthos, also called Xanthus, was a chief city state of the Lycians, an indigenous people of southwestern Anatolia. Many of the tombs at Xanthos are pillar tombs, formed of a stone burial chamber on top of a large stone pillar. The body would be placed in the top of the stone structure, elevating it above the landscape. The tombs are for men who ruled in a Lycian dynasty from the mid-6th century to the mid-4th century BCE and help to show the continuity of their power in the region. Not only do the tombs serve as a form of monumentalization to preserve the memory of the rulers, but they also reveal the adoption of Greek style of decoration.

Lycian sarcophagus of Sidon

The Lycian sarcophagus of Sidon is a sarcophagus discovered in the Sidon necropolis in Lebanon. It is made of Parian marble, and resembles the shapes of ogival Lycian tombs, hence its name. It is now located in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. It is dated to circa 430-420 BCE. This sarcophagus, as well as others in the Sidon necropolis, belonged to a succession of kings who ruled in the area of Phoenicia between the mid-5th century BCE to the end of the 4th century BCE.

References

  1. WordInfo etymology. As a noun the Greek term was further adopted to mean "coffin" and was carried over into LATIN, where it was used in the phrase lapis sarcophagus, "flesh-eating stone", referring to those same properties of limestone.
  2. 1 2 "Columbia University Department of Archaeology". Archived from the original on 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
  3. Presbrey - Leland, ‘’Commemoration: The Book of Presbrey - Leland Memorials’’, Presbrey-Leland Incorporated, 1952 p. 79
  4. Veit, Richard Francis (2008). New Jersey Cemeteries and Tombstones: History in the Landscape. Rutgers University Press/Rivergate Books. p. 169. ISBN   978-0813542362.
  5. Presbrey - Leland, ‘’Commemoration: The Book of Presbrey - Leland Memorials’’, Presbrey-Leland Incorporated, 1952 pp. 79–85
  6. Kabirdoss, Yogesh (28 June 2018). "ASI finds 2,300-year-old sarcophagus in Tamil Nadu". Times of India . Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  7. "Sarcófagos antropomorfos fenicios de Cádiz". Cultura en Andalucía (in Spanish). Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  8. "Sarcófago paleocristiano". España es Cultura (in Spanish). Sociedad Mercantil Estatal para la Gestión de la Innovación y las Tecnologías Turísticas, S.A.M.P. (SEGITTUR). Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte . Retrieved 29 September 2018.

Bibliography